The Anthem data breach has made us all a little more aware of how we should better safeguard our credit and financial information. It also made us more aware of the need to protect your children’s credit more diligently.
ID thieves target young children because they have a clean credit report, they aren’t getting regular mail (which is a red flag) and they won’t get caught until the child is ready to go to college or open any type of credit. According to a recent study by the Identity Theft Assistance Center, child identity theft happens once in every 40 households.
Be careful as to whom you give your child’s social security number! Do you really need to put ALL of their information on the little league or soccer team form so they can play the sport? Ask questions of those in charge. What information do they really need?
Remember to keep your voice down while verbally giving sensitive information at the doctor’s office or pharmacy. Start paying attention to who asks for this type of information and how you handle it. Keep all your files with sensitive information in a safe place at home and shred what you do not need to keep.
As your child ages, caution them that they should never post anything personal online (social media, online forms, etc.). This includes their birth date, pictures of sensitive information like a driver’s permit or license (hello, their address is on there, along with their FULL name and birth date)!
Possible Child ID Theft Red Flags:
- Collection calls or notices for a debt in your child’s name
- Mailings for pre-approved credit cards, jury duty or parking tickets. Any type of information that would usually be for people over the age of 18
- An insurance bill or explanation of benefits from a doctor listing medical treatments or services that did not take place
- A notice from the IRS that your child’s name and/or Social Security number is already listed on another tax return
Check your child’s credit report (along with your own) once a year at www.annualcreditreport.com. If a child’s report does not show up, then you don’t have anything to worry about. If something does show up, make sure you do these four things:
- File a police report
- File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC)
- Contact the business or credit
- Call the three credit bureaus to report, flag and/or freeze this account
A credit freeze means you are placing the account on “lockdown” and any new creditor cannot see the credit report unless you go in to “thaw” it. The problem that arises with this option is that you must have a credit report in order to freeze it… so most children will not have one to freeze. (Make sure you remember to “unfreeze” the child’s account before they begin using their credit or apply for financial aid for college.)
According to a recent article from The New York Times, nineteen states are now required to help parents/guardians create a new credit report for a minor child for the sole purpose of freezing it. Those states are: Arizona, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Montana, Nebraska, New York, Oregon, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, Virginia and Wisconsin. Let me caution you – it takes time and some paperwork to get this done.
For more information on identity theft, contact or visit The Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC) for free help 24 hours a day/ 7 days a week at 1.888.400.5530 or check out their website at www.idtheftcenter.org and click on Victim Help, Child/Teen.
If you’re interested in learning more about your credit or need assistance sorting it out, Apprisen offers a Credit Health Education session where we pull all three of your credit reports, review your information, educate you on how to read the reports, how to dispute items and help you establish a plan to pay off any debt that is listed. Give us a call for more information at 1.800.355.2227 or visit our website www.apprisen.com.