We tend to think of identity theft as a specifically adult problem- but a recent report found that more than 1 million American children were victims of identity theft in 2017.
In fact, children can be more vulnerable to fraud than adults. Their personal information is likely on file at school or the doctor's office, and they are growing up in a digital world where they are groomed to share sensitive details online with the click of a button. Fraud targeting a child can go undetected for several years because kids don't apply for jobs or loans, and they likely aren't requesting credit reports.
Prevention is the best way to address the problem of child identity theft. Start by educating your child about managing their online footprint and keeping personal information private. You also can go a step further by signing up for a credit monitoring service that includes child coverage.
But if anything looks amiss- such as traffic violations in your first grader's name or mysterious letters from debt collection agencies- it may be time to take further action. Here is a step-by-step guide to resolving your child's identity theft:
Use this experience as a learning opportunity for your whole family. Identity theft can happen to children, adults, and seniors alike. It's essential to educate all your loved ones (and yourselves) about ways to protect against fraud, especially in this increasingly digital society.