Parents can now apply for a social security card for their newborn at the same time they apply for a birth certificate. While convenient for tax and benefit purposes, the downside to this practice is the existence of a valid government identification number that no one will be actively monitoring for 18 years.
Something unique to child identity theft is the number of cases perpetrated by close family members who have access and opportunity. Identity thieves are very astute at exploitation. Parents must become equally adept at identity protection.
Identity theft of a minor is not a perfect crime. CRE Credit Services has some suggestions that will help parents protect their child from embarking on a financial life mired in fraudulent debt.
Read CRE Credit Services’ Securing Your Child’s Identity – Lock Down.
If you have applied for your child’s social security card at the hospital, you should receive the card in about 3 weeks.* If you don’t already have a safe deposit box or a secure lock box, now would be a good time to acquire one. The card should be stored in a safe place. Never carry a social security card with you.
While it’s important to keep the card itself under lock and key, it is equally important to keep all medical, school and tax records listing the number under lock and key as well. When one of those forms is no longer needed, shred it. Be vigilant.
*Average time as provided by the SSA. Some states may take longer to issue the card.
It is essential that parents periodically check with all three major credit companies to ensure that no credit has been established using the minor’s personal information. The three credit reporting agencies are Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. As of 2004, everyone is entitled to an annual free report from each of the credit companies. If you live in Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Maryland, Georgia or Vermont, you are entitled to an additional free report from each of the three companies per year per state law. Additionally, if you feel you or your child have already become victims of identity theft, you are entitled to free credit reports when you place a ninety day fraud alert on your file.
If you discover that your child’s information has been compromised, file a police report immediately. An official public record of the crime will go a long way to alleviate future problems.