There's no more of a tempting target for identity thieves than your child's financial identity. For one thing, it's a clean slate. For another, it can be a long time before your child tries to get credit which means years during which thieves can create havoc in your child's name without anyone noticing. These identities bring a premium on the dark web.
How does this happen?
You might think because your child has no credit that there wouldn't be any need for you to check their credit. Unfortunately any person with a SSN is a target for identity theft. Many opportunities are out there that allow for this information to be captured. One recent example is with the Washington State's WILD database breach in October 2016. This breach included the personal information of anyone who received a hunting or fishing license before mid-2006. This would include minors as well. This is just one examples of many that expose a child's data and could then be used to establish a credit profile with.
What can you do?
At a minimum, on an annual basis you should check your child's credit reports across the credit bureaus. The outcome should be that there be no credit report on file. If one exists then further investigation and potentially a credit freeze would be needed. There are some challenges with this process though. An adult can go online to one of the three credit bureaus and order a credit report. But, if you want to request your child's credit report, you have to send that request to the bureaus in writing.
Here are the links to the four credit bureaus on checking a child's credit report:
Here are some additional tips on protecting your child's identity:
- Carry your child's Social Security card, birth certificate or passport with you only when absolutely necessary.
- Unless you initiate contact, do not provide your child's Social Security Number (or any part of it) over the phone, over the Internet, or in person.
- If you are asked for your child's Social Security Number ask these three questions:
- Why is it needed?
- Isn't there another way to identify my child?
- How will my child's information be protected?
- Lock birth certificates and documents with your child's Social Security Number in a safe place.
- Most schools ask for personal identifying information. Ask if this is optional or if another form of identification can be used.
Aaron Robel, VP of Information Security