As an adult, keeping your identity safe from fraud and theft is an important thing. But, could the same really apply for someone who does not yet work, or for someone who doesn’t have an active credit report?
The answer is YES.
Everyone in the United States is at risk of having their identity stolen, and age does not serve as a barrier. In fact, criminals often target minors and avoid looking for adult victims. After all, many adults have already managed to burn their credit status for their own reasons.
Meanwhile, victimizing children gives many advantages to identity thieves. The biggest being that it’s easy for the thief to victimize the child’s identity over and over. If the victim is 12 years old, it could be almost a decade before a single credit inquiry or report request is made. This means the damage could already be done, and there might be nothing the victim could do to rectify the situation.
How Children Become Identity Theft Victims
Identity theft is like hacking, for the fact that there are countless ways a criminal can do it.
In most cases, it starts with obtaining a child’s Social Security Number (SSN). This, along with a few other pieces of personal identifying information, is enough for the thief to apply for credit cards, open a line of credit, and much more. In fact, fake driver’s licenses and even mortgage applications have been pushed through with the use of stolen information from a minor.
The most recent estimate suggests that 10% of children are identity theft victims.
Wait a second!
That number already sounded high, but have you thought about how it compares to the percentage of adults that are victimized? Some estimates say that children are targeted as much as 51 times more than adults.
Scratch that thought, just think about how probable it is for your child to get victimized between their younger and older years. With that in mind, you should take the steps to protect your kid’s identity now, while simultaneously educating them on how they can stay safe later.
Parents: Take Action NOW!
Identity theft against children is a common issue, and it is something that everyone should take serious. As a parent, it’s imperative that you take the steps to prevent your child from becoming a victim. That is a two-fold issue as it involves keeping their private information out of harm’s way; and, you never know when it’s a family member or friend who’s behind the crime.
So, if you want to keep your child’s identity safe, you must remember a few things.
- Unexpected mail about your child opening a bank account, getting a tax return, or anything out of the ordinary should be resolved right away. This includes going to your local police station to file an ‘Identity Theft Report’.
- Each of the three credit report bureaus must also be contacted when a possible issue arises, which can be done through the special child identity theft pages found at: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.
- You should also explain to your child how they can keep their identity safe, which includes detailing what not to publicize online. Many children become victims after posting private information on social media, or while signing up at fraudulent websites.
Now, you can go a step further by investing in child identity theft protection plan to keep your child’s identity safe.
How Child Identity Theft Protection Helps
As a parent, you can often discover when an identity theft attempt was made against your child. It might be too late, though, as there are no security measurements in place to block the use of your child’s name, SSN, and other details.
That’s where a child identity theft protection plan can help.
With identity theft protection, your child stays safe because:
- You get alerted any time someone attempts to use your child’s information.
- You can find out about things that won’t show on a credit report, like when a thief uses your child’s name or SSN for employment or when in court.
- You receive direct assistance from identity restoration experts, and compensation for any related expenses, when working with a trusted identity theft protection company.
That said, not just any identity theft protection plan will work. Child identity theft protection plans are really tailored towards minors. This is because identity thieves also tailor their efforts towards minors, which means there is a unique set of entry points that an attacker could use.
If you want the best protection money can buy, then you are either going to invest in Identity Guard or LifeLock services for your child. While both are effective, Identity Guard’s kID Sure protection plan costs $9.99 a month and is only available as an add-on to the parent’s plan. This gives an added measure of protection, as the subscribed adult is guaranteed to be the child’s parent.
The alternative is LifeLock Junior, but LifeLock also requires you add the child protection plan to your own. Although parents can pick up protection for as little as $9.99 a month through the LifeLock Standard plan, which is quite a bargain to guarantee everyone’s identity stays safe in your home.
How Will You Protect Your Kids?
Every parent takes some type of initiative to prepare their children for the real world, but few think it’s necessary to go as far as paying for identity theft protection. Yet, these plans are cheap and while they are just available as add-on plans, protection for parents is also important.
It’s sad that identity theft has become such a common problem in the United States. Just like how healthcare is free in Canada, identity theft protection should be standard here. But, it’s not, you can only guarantee safety of you and your child’s identity by paying each month.
That said, knowing is half the battle and there are many things you can do to keep your child safe. In fact, we also covered 10 Tips to Ensure Your Child’s Identity Stays Safe just this week. And, while each of those points will help you protect your child further, there’s no denying that paying a small amount each month for an automated alerts system is much more convenient.