Tips & Advice

How does your kid’s identity get stolen?

Emma McGowan 27 Sep 2021

Avoid these behaviors that get your kid’s digital identity stolen

Identity theft is one of the largest and most common forms of cybercrime. When it comes to sensitive personal information, a child’s Social Security number, date of birth, name, and address is some of the most desired information by criminals. 

Child identity theft is when someone uses a child’s sensitive personal information to get services, benefits, or to commit fraud. Stolen ID information can be used to open bank or credit card accounts, apply for government benefits, loan applications, and more. Youth Social Security numbers are especially valuable because a thief could be actively using the stolen information for years before anyone notices.

With more kids using more online devices than ever, you might think they are the most likely to be putting themselves and their families at risk for ID theft, but it’s actually parents who need to take greater precautions.  

Here are five behaviors that make it easy for your kid’s identity stolen:

1. Being careless with physical documents

Protect your child’s Social Security card like it’s a credit card. Don’t take or share pictures of it. Keep all documents with your kid’s personal information in a safe, secure place. Shred documents with personal information before throwing them away.

2. Failing to prevent digital theft

Email scams, data breaches, malicious websites, and unsecured networks can make your child’s personal information vulnerable to cybertheft. Evaluate your digital security solutions and don’t share or store your child's identity information online.

3. Unnecessary sharing 

Avoid sharing your child’s Social Security number whenever possible. For example, if a school or sport activity asks for your child’s Social Security number, ask if you can use an alternative identifier. You always have the right to ask how an organization safeguards personal information.

4. Allowing public publishing

If your child’s sports, church, or recreational activity publishes public directories or rankings, consider declining participation in the directory. Use a pseudonym or stage name to protect personal information from being used to commit fraud.

5. Misplaced trust

Sadly, theft doesn’t only come from strangers. Be cautious with family, neighbors, and friends who already have easy access to your child’s name and address, and could easily get access to their Social Security number. 


Further reading:
What is phishing?

Signs you’re a victim of identity theft
How to talk to your kids about online sharing during Covid-19
Privacy tips for parents


Signs your child’s identity may have already been stolen

If your child is receiving phone calls from debt collectors, notifications from the IRS, or pre-approvals for a line of credit, chances are high that their Social Security number and identity information has already been stolen and used to open a credit account. 

What to do if your child’s identity has been stolen

  1. File an identity theft report with the FTC’s identitytheft.gov recovery team. 

  2. File a fraud report with the Federal Trade Commission by calling 1-877-438-4338. 

  3. Close any fraudulent accounts. Contact any businesses where your child’s information may have been used. They may require a claim confirmation from the FTC before closing the account.

  4. Unfortunately, once an identity has been stolen, your child is likely to be targeted again in the future. Consider hiring an identity theft monitoring company with age-specific plans.

  5. Contact the four major credit bureaus listed below. Each must be contacted separately. If a profile exists and a line of credit has been established, ask for a copy of the credit report and review it. After reviewing the report, you can ask the bureau to delete the account and remove any information associated with the stolen Social Security number, freeze the account, and issue a fraud alert to the other major bureaus. 

Experian

Online: Experian Freeze Center
Phone: 1-888-397-3742
By mail, write to:
Experian Security Freeze
PO Box 9554
Allen, TX 75013

Equifax

Online: Equifax Credit Report Services
Phone: 1-800-685-1111
By mail, write to:
Equifax Information Services LLC
PO Box 105788
Atlanta, GA 30348-5788

TransUnion

Online: TransUnion Credit Freezes
Phone: 1-888-909-8872
By mail, write to:
TransUnion LLC
PO Box 2000
Chester, PA 19016

Innovis

Online: Innovis Freeze Options
Phone: 1-800-540-2505
By mail, write to:
Innovis Consumer Assistance
PO Box 26
Pittsburgh, PA 15230-0026