Recognizing the Signs of Child Identity Theft

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Identity Theft Prevention for Parents—Part 3

This is the third in a multi-part series by SafeWise expert advisor Pete Canavan, “The Safety Sensei.” Pete's expert tips and practical advice help you learn how to safeguard children's personal information and protect their credit.

As parents, our primary goal is to protect our children from any harm that may come their way. It is our primary responsibility as parents. We teach them about stranger danger, we ensure their safety in our homes when they're small, and we have to "baby-proof" our homes. We make sure they're secured in their car seats when traveling and that our homes are a safe environment for them to grow up in.

However, many parents haven't stopped to consider the dangers that lie in the virtual world. Child identity theft is a growing concern in today's modern digital age. As parents, it's crucial to recognize the signs and take immediate action to safeguard our children's personal information.

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Financial signs of child identity theft

The first sign to watch out for is unexplained financial activity involving your child. Children can still fall victim to identity theft as young as they may be. Keep an eye on any unfamiliar charges or withdrawals on their bank accounts or credit reports. Many parents open college savings accounts for their children when they are very young. Even minor discrepancies could indicate that your child's personal information has been compromised.

Be cautious of credit card offers

Children who are new college students are typically bombarded with credit card applications. Tell them not to fill them out. Not only are having credit cards a bad idea for young people, but their terms are also often misleading, ensnaring unsuspecting kids into terrible terms and crazy high-interest rates after their so-called "introductory" period. In addition, some companies specifically target students, both in high school and college, to get them to fill out applications with the sole purpose of using them for identity theft purposes.

If your child starts receiving pre-approved credit card offers or other financial solicitations in the mail, be wary. These targeted offers are often a result of someone using their personal information for fraudulent activities. While the intent may not be harmful, it still warrants your attention. Beware and tell your kids to be aware!

Debt collection notices can be a red flag

Another huge red flag is receiving bills or debt collection notices in your child's name. It may come as a surprise to find your little one being pursued for unpaid bills you (and they) are completely unaware of. This could be a clear indication of identity theft, and it's important not to ignore it. Deal with it immediately.

Watch for Social Security notices

Social Security number misuse is another significant sign that should not be overlooked. If you receive any notification stating that your child's Social Security number has been used for employment or financial purposes, it is crucial to take immediate action. Notices like this could indicate identity theft and have severe implications for their future financial well-being. It can affect future employment and cause problems with their Social Security benefits, plus a host of other issues you want to avoid if possible. It is easier to detect problems early before damage is done. It is much harder to fix these types of problems after the fact.

In the next installment of this series, we'll explore effective strategies to combat child identity theft and protect our children's personal information. We will uncover the essential steps parents can take to secure their children's future. You need to be proactive in safeguarding their identities and offering them the protection they deserve.

Pete Canavan
Written by
Pete Canavan
As an author, host of the Safety Talk radio show, and personal safety expert, Pete has made it his mission to shore up people’s safety. His extensive experience over the last 20 years as an IT security consultant, self-defense instructor, and public safety professional allows him to provide practical, actionable solutions to threats that exist in both the digital and physical worlds. In addition to writing a book about self-defense, he's been quoted and written about in major publications including the New York Post, Washington Post, and USA Today.

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