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Each year, millions of people become victims of identity theft. You may not realize, however, that more than a million of those victims are children.
Criminals often see children as easy targets. Because of this, parents need to take action to protect their children from identity theft. Without reliable protection, the long-term effects of identity theft could haunt your children for years or decades.
Your children don’t have credit cards, but they may have credit reports. Each year, you should request a copy of your child’s credit report from the three major credit bureaus (Experian, TransUnion and Equifax). In fact, you should make sure that you get a report from each bureau since they often have conflicting information.
Federal laws require the credit bureaus to give you free reports each year. You have to request the reports, though, to take advantage of the law. The best credit report monitoring services will update you on your credit as frequently as once a month.
You may find warning signs before inaccurate information gets added to your child’s credit report. Keep your eyes open for suspicious events like:
Many credit monitoring companies have low-cost services for children. If you already have a membership with a company like LifeLock or Credit Karma, then you may have a chance to add your children to the account for a very low price. See our LifeLock review or learn more about Credit Karma’s free services here.
Hiring a credit monitoring company for a young child may seem like an overreaction. Consider, though, what can happen when your child gets a little older. If your child is an identity theft victim, then he or she may have a hard time getting a driver’s license, opening a checking account and applying for college loans.
Identity theft can have long-lasting consequences, so you want to take the possibility seriously.
If you discover that your child has already become a victim, contact one of the credit bureaus to initiate a fraud alert. You’ll also need to file a fraud report with as much documentation as possible to prove that someone has stolen your child’s identity.