Theft of a Child’s Identity

Theft of a Child’s Identity

Child identity theft occurs when an identity thief uses a child’s personal identifying information for personal gain, such as obtaining credit, utilities, employment, or to avoid arrest and criminal prosecution. Children are often targeted because the crime is usually not detected until the child reaches adulthood and applies for credit, enabling the thief to use the information for many years.

Signs a Child’s Identity Has Been Compromised:

  • Your child begins to receive offers for credit cards, insurance, or other financial offers in his or her name, or receives notices from government agencies about earnings, taxes, benefits, or missed deadlines.
  • You attempt to open a bank account or financial account for your child and the application is denied for poor credit history.
  • A credit report already exists for the child.
  • A warrant for arrest has been issued in your child’s name.

Recovering From Child Identity Theft:

  • Follow the instructions in the links above to explain to the credit bureau that the report is associated with a minor and is the result of identity theft or error. The credit bureau should help you start the process of clearing your child’s credit records. For additional model request letters see the California Office of Privacy Protection, When Your Child’s Identity is Stolen.
  • Child identity theft involving employment or criminal records may not be identified in a credit report.  Visit Someone is Using my SSN for Employment and My Name Was Used Falsely In An Arrest for information on how to recover from this type of identity theft.
  • File a police report with local law enforcement. A victim needs a police report about the identity theft called an Identity Theft Report to exercise the right to have fraudulent information permanently removed from his or her credit report.  Visit, How to Use an Identity Theft Report.
  • Identity thieves in child identity theft cases are sometimes family members, which can make filing a police report more problematic. If filing a police report is a difficult issue in your family, visit  My Financial Information Has Been Stolen for more information on how to repair your child’s credit history by writing letters to the credit bureaus, creditors, and collection agencies without getting a police report about your child’s identity theft.  In the case of child identity theft, the goal is to prove that the child is a minor who cannot be held legally responsible for credit contracts.

Resources:

For parents of victims: The FTC’s “Safeguarding Your Child’s Future – Child Identity Theft”  is a guide for parents of child identity theft victims. It includes to-do lists, contact information, blank forms and the Uniform Minor’s Status Declaration which can be used to correct problems resulting from child identity theft. An organization can also order free copies of the publication in bulk.

For helping professionals: The FTC and the Office for Victims of Crime (OVC) held a forum to discuss child identity theft. Government, business, non-profit, legal service providers, and victim advocates explored the nature of child identity theft, including foster care identity theft and identity theft within families, with the goal of advising parents and victims on how to prevent the crime and how to resolve child identity theft problems. Watch the webcast of Stolen Futures: A Forum on Child Identity Theft.

For foster children: Youth in the foster care system transitioning to adulthood may face a steep climb to overcome problematic family histories, graduate from high school, and learn to obtain financial security as they age out of the system. Imagine this burden multiplied when a young person discovers that her identity has been stolen by a family member, stranger, or even a trusted foster care worker. For more information on how to help children in the foster care system listen to the webinar entitled Identity Theft & Children in Foster Care. Also, the FTC released a guide on protecting foster children’s identities. The overarching goals of the guide are youth empowerment: using this opportunity to help young people understand what credit is, why it’s important to their future financial stability, and how bad credit can derail their goals. It also gives adults some tools to help kids if their identity has been stolen, particularly because the effects can be both financial and emotional.

Protecting Children’s Information at School: For more information on how to protect your child’s identity and an explanation of your rights under the federal Family Educational Rights Privacy Act, visit Protecting Your Child’s Personal Information at School available from the Federal Trade Commission.