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Why Identity Thieves Target Children And How You Can You Protect Their Data

According to the identity protection organization CSID, part of Experian, children are 35 times more likely to have their identities stolen than are adults.

Warning signs that a child could be the victim of identity theft include:

  1. Being denied government benefits because someone is already using the child's Social Security number (SSN) to receive government payments.
  2. Receiving a notice from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) stating that the child failed to pay taxes or that the child's SSN was used to file a tax return.
  3. Receiving a collection call or bill for products or services that a child allegedly purchased, but did not.

Parents can find out if identity thieves have stolen their child's identity by checking to see if the child has a credit score. In most cases, a child should not have a credit score, so having one is a possible sign of fraud. Kim St. Onge "How parents can protect their children from identity theft" (May 08, 2018).


Identity thieves target children because child identity theft can easily go undetected for years. Identity theft is often discovered in the process of applying for credit cards or loans, which most children do not do until they reach adulthood.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recommends that using caution when giving out a child’s personal information—especially a child’s Social Security number—and only do so when absolutely necessary. Those who work with children should not ask for a child’s social security number during enrollment or for any other purpose. Parents and caregivers who are asked for it should “opt out”. It is also a good idea to opt out of having a child’s information in a publicly-disseminated school or organizational directory.

Parents should check to see if the child has a credit score before his or her 16th birthday to have enough time remedy the identity theft before your child applies for a job, apartment, or a loan for tuition or for a car. Failure to do so may result in the child being denied a job or loan because of bad credit or a criminal record that isn’t actually his or hers.

The FTC recommends the following steps for parents who discover signs of child identity theft: 1. Contact all three credit reporting companies and ask them to remove all accounts, account inquiries, and collection notices associated with your child’s name or SSN; 2. Have all three companies put a fraud alert on your child’s credit report; 3. Contact any business where you know an identity thief opened an account in your child’s name and have them close the account and flag it as fraudulent; and 4. File a fraud report with the FTC. 

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