Identity theft is commonly thought of as a concern for adults, but the unfortunate reality is that it is becoming a larger threat for children as well. One of the reasons children are an easy target for identity theft is because they typically do not make much use of their social security number until they apply for their first job or begin applying to colleges. This means that identity thieves can carry on fraudulent activity in a child’s name for years before it goes detected. Don’t wait until it’s too late – here are some tips for protecting your child’s identity.  
  • Lock up important information in a safe place.
    • Never carry your child’s social security card in your wallet.
    • Purchase a safe deposit box to keep important papers locked up.
  • Check your child's social security earnings record.
    • This can be done by calling the Social Security Administration at (800) 772-1213. 
  • Always ask why a business asks for or needs a social security number.
  • Don’t give your children their social security information until they are old enough to understand how to protect it.
  • Talk to your child about the importance of keeping their information private.
  • Sports teams often require a birth certificate to sign up.  Make sure that information will be handled confidentially.
  • Check your child’s credit.
    • It should turn up nothing until they are 18 years of age (unless they are a secondary user on a credit card authorized by a parent).
    • You can order a free credit report online at, or by calling Equifax at (800) 685-1111; Experian at (888) 397-3742; or Trans Union at (800) 888-4213.
  • Read your child’s bank statements.
  • Pay attention if your children start receiving junk mail, especially credit card offers.
    • The more mailing lists a child’s name is on, the more exposed he/she is to identity theft.
    • Sign up for subscriptions (such as magazines) under your own name rather than your child’s name if possible.
  • For birth announcements consider providing only a first initial and last name in any public listing.
  • Be aware of phone scams after listing a birth announcement.
    • Criminals can take information such as the hospital’s name and pose as a worker, congratulate you on the birth of your son/daughter and then try to obtain personal information such as the full name and social security number.
  • If a relative asks for your child’s personal information to set up a monetary gift fund in their name, ask for documentation of the account before handing over the SSN and other required info.
  • In 2/3 of all child identity theft cases, the thief is related to the child.  Be cautious about giving out your child’s social security number to anyone other than a trusted professional. 

Guarding against online identity theft.

  • Instruct your children to never divulge personal information when they are online.
    • Giving out birth dates, home addresses, parents' names and their school's name is enough for someone to order your child's birth certificate and begin the ID theft process.
    • Make sure your child knows to ignore and delete scam email messages that ask for personal information.
    • Review your child's profile information and security settings on social network sites.   
  • Remind your children that whatever information they post online can never be taken back.
    • Even if information is deleted from a site, other people may be able to access older versions which still contain the private information.
  • Check out sites your kids visit, and see what kind of information the sites ask for or allow kids to post.