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Regular Credit Monitoring Can Prevent Identity Theft of Children

November 18, 2010

Most Americans are well aware of the dangers of identity theft and go out of their way to protect themselves, but those same people probably have no idea they need to be just as careful about protecting their children’s credit.

Thieves, using computers and public records, find dormant Social Security Numbers frequently belonging to young children and sell the numbers to individuals who use them when applying for credit. Sometimes they use their real name along with the fraudulent number creating, in effect, two identities on one Social Security Number. Other times, they may take out loans in the child’s name and it goes unnoticed until he or she becomes much older.

This type of identity theft is not easily detected by lenders because a corresponding birth date is not provided. So even toddlers can have credit damage that’s only discovered years later when they apply for a job or their first credit card.

Parents need to be aware this is happening and take proactive steps to secure their children’s Social Security Numbers and credit.

1. Request a free credit report on your children each year to be sure no activity is appearing under their names. If there is no fraudulent activity, you will either receive a blank report or no report at all since there’s no history to show.

2. Do not provide your child’s Social Security Number to anyone unless absolutely required. Ask if there’s another item you can provide as a substitute, and if you must submit it, find out how it will be safeguarded.

3. Watch for red flags, such as credit card solicitations coming in a child’s name, which can be a sign there’s an active credit file.

Source: ABCnews.com, Identity Theft Resource Center, SmartMoney.com

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