Protecting Your Children from Identity Theft

January 8, 2019

Protecting your personal identity has been increasingly important in recent years, as concerns of hackers, data breaches and email scams all potentially expose your most sensitive information to online users. However, what most families do not realize is that Mom and Dad’s account numbers and social security numbers aren’t the only ones at risk anymore.

According to the 2018 Child Identity Fraud Study by Javelin Strategy & Research, more than 1 million children in the U.S. were victims of Identity theft in 2017. While that number in itself is staggering, it does not account for the many unclaimed thefts that will remain unnoticed for years.

Below are some tips to help protect your child’s identity from fraudulent activity:

  1. Keep the Child’s Personal Information in a Secure Location: Birth certificates, social security cards, passports and any other personally identifying materials should be kept in a secure location either at home, or in safety deposit box with only a few individuals allowed access.
  2. Monitor Your Mail: It’s easy to throw your junk mail in the garbage after quickly scanning through the envelopes but pay attention to any letters such as pre-approved credit cards or correspondence from a collection agency with your child’s name on them. These could potentially derive from false credit claims in their name.
  3. Freeze your Child’s Credit: Parents can now freeze their children’s credit with any of the three credit agencies (Equifax, TransUnion or Experian). For children under age 16, guardians must mail in this request along with the required documentation. Be cognizant that you will need to keep track of the information required to unfreeze your child’s credit when they are ready to open their own accounts.

While there are no concrete solutions to keeping personal information 100% safe, using these precautionary measures and keeping your head up on any potential warning signs can help thwart off any possible fraud.

For more information on preventing identity theft, please check out our blog, ‘Tips to Protect and Prevent Identity Theft’.

Sean Knoerzer is a Senior Advisor at BDF where he enjoys digging deep into the details of a client’s financial plan. He sits on the firm’s Financial Planning Committee, which is responsible for educating the BDF team on financial planning topics and improving the team’s planning process. He earned a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture and Consumer Economics with a concentration in Financial Planning at the University of Illinois.  Sean is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional.