Remember how easy life was when you were a kid? You didn’t have loans to worry about, utility bills to pay, or major expenses to think of. Your basic routine consisted of meeting friends on lunch break or meeting up at the movie theaters to catch the latest flick. Life was great!
Then you grow up and have children of your own. You want to teach them how to be financially responsible, so you start by opening bank accounts for them, but to your dismay, they are denied. In confusion, you go over the copies of their credit reports that the bank clerk provides you and learn that your children have fraudulent credit and collection accounts. An experience that was meant to be positive quickly becomes a terrible one for you and your children.
Children under the age of 18 have become prime targets for identity theft because most parents don’t notice that their child’s identity has been stolen so it buys time for thieves to use a child’s Social Security number to apply for credit, loans, and even utility accounts. Criminal acts such as this can go undetected until the child is no longer a minor and discovers the fraudulent activities when applying for a credit card or student loan. At this point, the damage has been done and can take years to clean up.
Luckily, you can be proactive and take preventative measures to help protect your children’s identity. The Identity Theft Resource Center offers some helpful tips to protect your children from identity theft.
• Shred all papers and documents containing your minor child’s Social Security number
• Don’t carry your children’s Social Security cards in your wallet
• Teach your children to not provide personal information over the phone or via the Internet
As a parent, you don’t want your children to suffer through the hassles caused by bad credit. Also, you don’t want to have to spend a significant amount of time and money to clean up fraudulent activities on affected credit reports. To make life easier, you may want to enroll your children in a program that provides child identity monitoring. After all, you already went through 18 years of washing dirty laundry and picking up a messy bedroom.