Child identity theft a growing problem, how to protect your family

Your child could have had their identity stolen, and most parents wouldn’t even know it. In the United States child ID fraud impacts one in every 50 children, and costs families nearly $1 billion a year.

Britta Clarck, with the Better Business Bureau Mountain West, said the cases of child identity theft are growing. But there are ways to protect your family, and make sure people are not opening credit cards or committing fraud in your child’s name.

Children make great targets for identity fraud for multiple reasons.

“They’re starting off with this clean blank slate of this child’s credit, first of all,” said Clark. “Then secondly you have the time that it takes to uncover these fraud attempts.”

The thieves can take a child’s personal information and use it to apply for benefits like healthcare, open bank, or credit accounts, apply for loans, sign up for utilities, or even rent a home.

Clark said it can take years, even decades before anyone notices the damage.

“And oftentimes the parents may never notice. And it’s the child who finds out when they grow up and try to start having credit lines of their own.”

Children with unmonitored access to the internet and social media are more likely to be targeted.

“Those scams can be you’ve won something from Minecraft. Or you have this chance to meet your favorite celebrity or athlete and you just need to fill out this information.”

Clark said kids don’t always know that some information is not meant for strangers. Scammers may even pose as a child’s friend online, while they are actually fishing for identity information.

“So they could say oh what’s your name, what’s your parents’ names, where do you live?”

Parents may often miss red flags, writing them off as junk mail or spam.

“You should be monitoring your child’s credit just like you monitor your own,” she said.

Signs of child ID theft include calls or letters about bills in your child’s name or taxes they owe. Parents being turned down for government benefits or a child’s student loan application being denied are other signs.

To protect your children, teach them about internet security, and what is considered private information.

You can also check their credit for free once a…