Is Someone Impersonating Your Child?

SmartMoney reports on the threat of underage identity theft; 5% of FTC complaints in 2005 were about victims 18 years old or younger. Children are often perfect targets, because they have social security numbers that are largely unused–which means unchecked–until they’re old enough to apply for their first job or credit card.

…shortly after [Kristen Smith’s] 16-year-old son started a summer gig at a local car dealership… his new employer conducted a routine background check that returned shocking news: A man living in Phoenix was using his Social Security number. Even more shocking was the discovery by the local police department that there was more than one perpetrator. In 1994, a man from Pennsylvania with a DUI arrest on his record had been using Smith’s son’s Social Security number as well.

Of course, credit monitoring agencies are hoping to cash in on this new threat by offering special monitoring services–think of it as the credit world’s attempt at creating a “restless leg syndrome” revenue stream. But you can handle the monitoring on your own with a little effort. Adam Levin, chairman of Identity Theft 911, suggests that parents remember to include their children in their periodic credit reviews. And a spokesman from the Social Security Administration says parents can call the SSA directly to check whether any work history has been reported for a child’s number.

All three major credit reporting bureaus have different responses to reports of a stolen number, so check the table at the end of the SmartMoney article for details on what you can request from each one.

Online resources:
Identity Theft Resource Center
Identity Theft 911

Protecting Your Child’s Identity [SmartMoney]

(Photo: Getty)