The joyous arrival of a baby is welcomed with a new name, family, and typically a new Social Security number too.
Securing a Social Security number, although not mandatory, allows a parent to claim the child as a dependent on a tax return, open a bank account or purchase savings bond in his or her name, and obtain medical coverage for the youngster. But that same move can expose innocent children to fraud, long before they even understand the concept.
Children 18 and younger are 52 percent more likely to have Social Security numbers stolen than adults. Why? Because a minor does not need access to credit, their parents rarely think to check a child’s credit. Criminals know this. While families are busy raising their child, hackers can be using the number, unchecked, to wreak havoc.
Chillingly, this crime can be committed relatively simply. Pair a name and birthdate with the child’s stolen Social Security number and a false identity can be created. Criminals can use the number to open credit card accounts, obtain driver’s license, even buy homes and cars. Sadly, most criminals are not even strangers to the child—over 70% became victims of fraud committed by someone they know.
Thankfully, one simple step can drastically reduce the odds of your child being victimized: Parents should freeze their children’s credit until they are 18. To check or freeze the child’s credit, visit annualcreditreport.com or call 1-877-322-8228.
Some other basic steps will further reduce the risk of identity theft:
- Keep a child’s personal information secure in a secure location.
- Teach them as soon as possible to be aware of the risks of sharing personal information, in person and on line.
Parenting keeps people constantly on the go, but taking the time to lock down a child’s Social Security number can be one of the quickest and most vital steps to avoid potential financial disaster.
Have you reviewed your credit report for accuracy? Hanscom FCU members can access their credit scores and reports at no charge. Take your first step to protecting your identity.
Others are reading: