Consumer Alert: How to protect your child from identity theft

Published: Oct. 18, 2020 at 11:13 AM CDT
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - Identity theft doesn’t just happen to adults.

That’s according to consumer experts, who say parents can help protect their children’s private information online to prevent this from happening to them before they are adults.

Action 2 News spoke with Eva Velasquez, the President and CEO of the national non-profit Identity Theft Resource Center, who says your child’s personal information, especially their social security number, is just as valuable - maybe even more so than yours.

“It’s very hard for parents to wrap their head around this because it feels like an adult crime. It just feels like something that can’t happen to children, but anyone who has identity credentials - and let’s face it, that’s all of us - anyone that has them, those can be misused,” said Velasquez. “More often we’re talking with parents who have a newborn child and they discover it because they’re trying to claim them as a dependent on their taxes, and they find out that the social security number that has been issued to their child already has a history. Then we talk to parents of older children, many of whom are trying to apply for student loans or financial aid, and then they find out that no, they have this very long, lengthy and bad credit history which stops them from getting those loans to pursue their higher education. I think it’s just tragic.”

Velazquez says just taking a few minutes on a regular basis to prevent your child from becoming a victim of identity theft.

“Freeze your child’s credit report. The great news is, that it’s free now across the country - you can freeze your child’s credit. Again, I go back to there’s no silver bullet, there’s no one thing, but this is another one of those things that really locks down the ability for thieves to open new lines of credit,” said Velazquez.

In addition to checking credit reports, parents can also watch for a couple of other things - a medical bill, late notice on a loan payment, or an IRS notice in your child’s name.

You’ll want to check on that immediately to see if it’s just a simple mistake, or an issue with identity theft.

If you have questions or think you’re a victim of identity theft, you can contact the Identity Theft Resource Center.

All of its services are free - click here to access their website.

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