Your son receives a pre-approval letter for a credit card. You get notices from the IRS that your 12 year-old child hasn’t paid his taxes. Or you bring your daughter to the credit union to open her first savings account and are denied because they say she has a record of bad checks.
These are warning signs for child identity theft. Most people know that they could be a victim of a breach, but not everyone realizes that this can happen to your children.
Identity theft can interfere with everything like college, jobs, buying a car, or getting that first mortgage. So it's important for you to understand how to protect your children from this identity theft.
Kids have no credit history. They’re not even old enough to get their own credit card. However, being under 18 is not a problem for opening new accounts. Credit bureaus don’t know the age of the applicant.
The crime can go undetected for years since no one usually thinks to check a child's credit report. The first time you might discover it is when your child is applying for a loan for college or even when looking for their first job.
How does your child's info get out there?
Anyone with access to your child's Social Security number and date of birth can apply for accounts and services in their name. There are a number of ways scammers can get their hands on those vital digits:
- Paperwork: Sensitive information is usually written on forms for school and/or team sports. It’s seen by the school staff and if they aren’t shredded properly, thieves will find them in recycling bins. Be careful what your write on these forms. Ask if you can leave your child’s social security number blank.
- Hacking: In 2016 and so far in 2017, healthcare is a lucrative target for hackers. Millions of children’s records could possibly be compromised. There’s really nothing you can do to prevent a breach. However, if you are compromised, take advantage of any credit monitoring services they offer.
- Friends and family: Unfortunately and disturbingly, the person who steals a child’s identity is often a close friend or even a relative.
What should you do if your child's identity is stolen?
Follow these tips from the Federal Trade Commission and other experts:
- File a police report and report the crime to the FTC at IdentityTheft.gov.
- Contact the three major credit bureaus to request your credit reports (you can access all three credit reports via AnnualCreditReport.com). Ask each bureau to remove any fraudulent accounts. Then freeze your credit so no new accounts can be opened.
- Contact the appropriate creditor to explain that the fraudulent account was opened in a minor's name.
- Consider paying for a credit monitoring service.
Visit the FTC's Identity Theft Resource site for more help.
With hundreds of millions of dollars in assets and over 50,000 members across Hawaii, Hawaiian Tel Federal Credit Union is one of the leading financial institutions in the state, with a reputation for combining personalized service with technologically advanced personal banking solutions. Learn more about their broad array of services online, follow their Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for news and updates, or call the credit union at 832-8700 on Oahu or toll-free at (800) 272-5255 with any questions.