Imagine this scenario…you go to the hospital to have your first baby. It is a thrilling moment and the happiest in your life. One year later, you find out your one year old son has a home in his name in another state. He was a victim of identity theft before he ever learned to walk. Believe it or not, this could actually happen.
When you have a baby, one of the first things you might do as a responsible parent is apply for a Social Security number in your child’s name. Sometimes, this can be done right in the hospital when you apply for your baby’s birth certificate. Unfortunately, if this number gets into the wrong hands at the hospital, identity theft could happen to your baby – or even to you, since both parents’ Social Security numbers are required on the birth registration form.
A possible alternative to avoid this situation would be not to apply for a baby’s Social Security number at the hospital, since having a Social Security card for a child is voluntary. Yet your child will need a Social Security number in order for you to claim child-related tax breaks, to add them to your health insurance plan, to set up a college savings plan or bank account, or to apply for government benefits.
Another more reasonable option for some people would be to apply for the Social Security card in person, at your local Social Security Administration Office. This is, of course, an entirely personal choice since there are never any guarantees against identity theft.
If you suspect that your child’s Social Security number has been misused, you can file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission at http://www.ftc.gov.