Children can be victims of identity theft too — Part 1

Learn the warning signs of identity theft and how a child’s personal information can be compromised.

In Part 1 of this two-part series, the warning signs of identity theft and how a child’s personal information is compromised are discussed. Part 2 will explain the procedures to follow when a child is a victim of identity theft.

More than 1.3 million children are victims of identity theft annually and 50 percent of these children are under 6 years old, according to Robert Chappell Jr. in a Detroit Free Press article. This is a shocking statistic and may surprise many adults. There are warning signs that indicate a child’s personal identity is being used fraudulently. The Federal Trade Commission advises parents to look out for the following:

  • The child is turned down for government benefits because the benefits are being paid to another account using your child’s Social Security number.
  • The child receives a notice from the IRS saying the child didn’t pay income taxes or the child’s Social Security number was used on another tax return.
  • The child gets collection calls or bills for products or services you didn’t receive or purchase.
  • The child receives credit card offers or bank information in the mail.

A child’s identity is put at risk in a number of ways. Scam artists want a child’s personal information because the Social Security number is priceless. Think about all of the places where a child’s personal information is kept. School offices, doctor offices and your home can all experience breaches of security, whether it be an actual physical intrusion or a hack on computer systems. Relatives have also been known to steal a child’s identity for personal use.

Parents may be devastated to discover their child’s identity has been stolen. However, they must act immediately to circumvent future misuse of the information. Part 2 of this series will provide the action to take if your child is a victim of identity theft.

Read Part 2: Children can be victims of identity theft too – Part 2

To learn about the positive impact children and families experience due to Michigan State University Extension programs, read our 2016 Impact Report: “Preparing young children for success” and “Preparing the future generation for success.” Additional impact reports, highlighting even more ways Michigan 4-H and MSU Extension positively impacted individuals and communities in 2016, can be downloaded from the Michigan 4-H website.

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