Children and Identity Theft

by Joanne Coley

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Five-year-old children now work adult paying jobs. Fifteen year olds now own and run businesses. Or so it appears. It does appear that young children and teens are working, running businesses, racking up credit card charges and utility payments as well as buying cars and their parents don't know about it. These children and teens could be targets of identity theft.

It can take years to detect evidence of stealing a child's identity. Many children don't know they have been victimized until they attempt to rent an apartment or obtain credit. While some have even been victimized by a parent, others have been victimized by unknown identity theft predators through a variety of means.

Identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes in the United States. No one is immune: children, teens, the elderly and deceased. Although there are no guarantees in preventing identity theft, parents should not ignore the warning signs:

  • Pre-approved bank cards that arrive in the mail in the child or teen's name

  • Financial and credit card statements that arrive in the mail in your child's name

  • Collection agency letters or phone calls in your child's name

To protect your child from identity theft:

  • Safeguard your child's social security number and other personal information such as date of birth. Never carry this important identification routinely in your pocketbook or wallet.

  • Never routinely provide personal information. Always inquire why certain personal information is needed, who will handle the information, and how will the necessary personal information be safeguarded.

  • Stress to your children and young teens the importance of not routinely providing their own personal information, including the Internet. If anyone asks about them about personal information, have your child or teen tell the requester that they must speak with their parent.

  • Parents should check with all four credit bureaus to make sure their child or teen does not have a credit history when they should not have one.

Joanne Coley is a former Credit Analyst and currently a Writer, Public Relations and Marketing Consultant servicing the Philadelphia and surrounding area.

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