How parents can protect their children from identity theft

(WSMV file photo)

Criminals are targeting children, trying to steal their identities at an alarming rate.

According to CSID, the rate of child identity theft is 35 times higher than the rate for adults.

Child identity theft is harder to detect and may go unnoticed for longer periods of time, making children an easy target.

The Federal Trade Commission suggests for parents to be careful about giving out their child's Social Security number and other personal information and to pay close attention to forms from school. The FTC says to look for terms like "personally identifiable information," "directory information" and "opt-out" and find out how your child’s information will be used, whether it will be shared and with whom.

Here are some warning signs to look for that may indicate your child is a victim: Getting turned down for government benefits because the benefits are being paid to another account using your child’s Social Security number Receiving a notice from the IRS saying the child didn’t pay income taxes or that the child’s Social Security number was used on another tax return Getting collection calls or bills for products or services you didn’t receiveOne of the safest ways to find out if your child's identity has been stolen is to check to see if they have a credit report. Experts say because children typically do not use credit cards, a credit report filed under a child's Social Security number is a red flag.

The Federal Trade Commission recommends for parents to check to see if their children have a credit report around their 16th birthday. If you find an existing credit report with errors, there will be enough time to fix the issue before your child applies for a job, a loan for tuition, a loan for a car or needs to rent an apartment.

If you confirm your child is a victim of identity theft, here's what the FTC says you should do next: Contact each credit reporting company. Ask each company to remove all accounts, account inquiries and collection notices from any file associated with your child’s name and Social Security number. Contact every business where your child’s information was misused. Ask each business to close the fraudulent account and flag it to show it resulted from identity theft. Ask each company to put a fraud alert on your child’s credit report. Contact one company, and that company will contact the other two. File a fraud report with the FTC online or call 877-438-4338. If the fraud relates to medical services or taxes, you might need to file a police report too.If you believe your child is a victim of identity theft, you can fill out this TransUnion online Child Identity Theft Inquiry form.

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