Friday, July 20, 2012

Child Identity Theft

We do a lot to protect our identities. We buy software for our computers to protect us from hackers. We change our passwords on our accounts regularly (or at least we should!). We write “Ask for Identification” on the back of our debit and credit cards. We do all this in an effort to protect our credit and our assets from criminals. We worked hard to build these things and will work equally hard to keep hold of them and guard them from those who would take them from us. How much time do you spend protecting your kids’ identities?

That’s right, I asked about your kids’ identities. Your kids have Social Security numbers and identities just like you do. Sure, they don’t have all the financial baggage that your personal data comes with, but they are just as vulnerable. I hear you thinking, “But they’re just kids! Why do we need to worry about their identities?”

The Bad Guys out there don’t discriminate when it comes to age. The social security number of a fourteen year old is just as good as one from a forty year old; often better as there is no past history. When a minor’s social security number is used to access a credit report, the reports are usually squeaky clean. There is not even a date of birth attached to the record. It is a beautiful clean canvas that a criminal will use to create their false identity.

Every year I meet several high school students who have had calls from collection agencies or have discovered through other means that their personal information was compromised. These students are all under the age of 18 and have credit problems caused by someone else. Sometimes they learn of it when they go to order their first cell phone and discover that a relative who had a previous account cancelled for nonpayment had used the youngster’s personal info to access a new phone and a new cell account. Some do not learn of the identity theft until they have graduated high school and are denied student loans due to a person’s misuse of their personal data. Often, relatives are involved. Each case is its own tragedy.

These students who have had their information compromised have a lot of work to do before they can access credit for themselves. They have to get started on their own credit repair process. In some cases it involves turning in relatives or family friends to the authorities for investigation of identity theft.  

But what about your children’s personal data? How safe is it?

What have you done to protect them? Who has access to your child’s social security number? Have you ever talked to your kids about sharing information? You need to protect your children’s personal data just as you would your own. Medical, school and banking documents that have your child’s social security numbers on them need to be locked up and eventually shredded properly. Ensure that going forward the only people with access to your son or daughter’s personal info is you and your spouse. When the kids are old enough, have that talk with them about what information about them is secret and should never be shared with strangers.

Far too many parents don’t talk about money and credit with their kids and their kids suffer because of it. Don’t be that parent! Prepare your kids for life after school.


  1. I love it! You bring up a very good point about protecting the ID of a child.

  2. Thank you. We have seen too many young people with bad credit because someone the family trusted used the child's information to access a cell phone or other utility or credit.