Even though children don’t have any bank accounts, credit cards or other lines of credit where they have shared their social security number, they are still at risk for having their SSN stolen or abused. Identity thieves often resort to purchasing newly issued social security numbers or seek out numbers that are inactive because these are likely assigned to a minor. In many cases, you won’t even know that the number was being used by someone else until the child is ready to open a bank account or apply for a credit card in their name. If you do come to find out that your child’s social security number has been swiped by an identity thief, here’s what you need to do:
- File a formal complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). You will need to file an Identity Theft Complaint with the FTC’s Identity Theft Clearinghouse so that they can investigate what happened. You can call the FTC at 1-877-438-4338 or send your Identity Theft Complaint to: Identity Theft Clearinghouse, Federal Trade Commission, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington D.C. 20580. You can also submit a complaint online on the Federal Trade Commission’s Complaint site.
- File a police report. When someone uses your child’s social security number, they are committing a form of identity theft. You can file an official Identity Theft Report with the police department so that they can begin an investigation.
- Report the incident to the national credit reporting agencies. You will need to contact each of the three credit reporting agencies — Experian, Equifax and TransUnion – to inform them that the social security of a minor was used by someone else. Call Experian at 1-888-397-3742, Equifax at 1-800-525-6285 and TransUnion at 1-800-680-7289. The credit reporting agencies may ask you to send a copy of the police report and Identity Theft Complaint you have already submitted elsewhere.
- Cancel all open accounts. If you learn about any accounts that have been opened using your child’s social security number, you’ll need to find the contact information for each company and proceed to close the account. Let them know that the account was opened by someone else and that you have already filed a complaint with the FTC and/or police department.
- Consider enrolling in a credit monitoring service. Once all complaints and reports have been filed, and you are sure that all accounts have been closed, consider enrolling in a credit monitoring service so that you receive alerts of any suspicious activity with your child’s social security number in the future. Credit monitoring services can make it easier to detect fraud and put a stop to it at soon as possible.
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