Every year 500,000 children suffer from identity theft. Why? Their clean records are attractive to thieves looking to open new accounts without any issues, and the theft can go unnoticed for years as parents and guardians often don't think to check their children's records. Childhood identity theft can lead to a lifetime of fraud and ruined credit.
Child identity theft has been a major issue for years and in the past, there was little parents could do to protect their children. A new federal law went into effect earlier in September that allows parents in any state to check the child’s credit report and place a freeze on it with the big three credit bureaus for free. Previously, only some states allowed parents to open and freeze a credit report for their child.
The first step is to ensure your children do NOT have a credit report by contacting all three of the credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion). If no report is found, you're in luck. You should immediately place a freeze on their credit. YOu should still periodically check on your child's status. If a report is found, it's usually a sign your child has been victimized. Ask the credit bureaus to immediately place a credit freeze on your child's record, contact your local law enforcement and investigate further.
You can visit identitytheft.gov/steps and click on Child Identity Theft for more help and information on how to place the credit freezes.