Children are more likely to be victims of identity theft than adults. Ten percent of the children in a new study had their Social Security number stolen and in use by someone else. Only 0.2 percent of adults were targeted.
For example, a 17-year-old Arizona girl found herself $725,000 in debt, with 42 open accounts including mortgages, car loans and credit cards. In another, a 14-year-old Kentucky boy was found to have a credit report that went back 10 years that included a foreclosed mortgage.
Children are targets because they are not going to be using their identities for a long time. Parents do not watch their identities. Identity theft may not be discovered until the child applies for credit.
Parents should take precautions to protect their children’s identities.
- Check for mail in the child’s name
- Warn children about sharing personal information online
- Put personal information in a safe place
- Watch for pre-approved credit card offers in the child’s name
- Look for a bank account in the child’s name that you did not open.
You can report any problems to a credit company, such as http://www.transunion.com/, which will start a credit search.