Identity theft is certainly not a danger anyone should take lightly but parents should be especially attuned to this danger because children are at higher risk to be victims of identity theft and, because they are children the crime is less likely to be discovered in a timely manner. Adults are more likely to be using their credit and checking their credit scores and thus are more likely to become alerted to identity theft in a timely manner. For children, the very fact of having a credit score is usually an indication that their identities have been stolen. The question is, what can parents do about this.
The most basic thing that parents can do is to check with the credit reporting agencies to see if there is a credit file for their children. Each agency has a phone number to an automated system to check:
- Equifax: 800-685-1111
- Experian: 888-397-3742
- TransUnion: 800-916-8800.
For parents in Utah there is another option – one that does not require regular, repeated checks. The state of Utah has a site where parents can register their children’s Social Security Number to have those numbers flagged as high risk with TransUnion. This should prevent identity thieves from being able to use those Social Security Numbers to open credit accounts etc. When the child turns 17 the high risk flag is removed so that the child should be able to begin building their own credit history as they enter adulthood without any bother. As far as I can tell this is only available to residents of Utah but people in other states might want to consider asking their states to establish a similar program to protect their children.
Whether for yourself or for you children, take steps to prevent this from becoming a problem for you.