When one of my sisters recently tried to file her taxes ahead of the April 15th tax-deadline, she got a nasty surprise from her accountant: the IRS rejected my sister’s tax return because someone had already illegally used her child’s social security number.
Unfortunately, identity theft knows no age boundaries, and increasingly crooks that steal social security numbers for personal gain are victimizing children.
In many cases, thieves want to obtain fraudulent tax returns. In other instances, a child’s social security number may be used to open unauthorized credit accounts or obtain loans.
But the rise in tax identity theft is particularly alarming.
According to the IRS, incidents of tax-related ID theft surged 265% in the first nine months of 2012 compared to the full year of 2011.
What’s more, 2011 cases of tax identity theft were already up 500% versus 2010 levels.
To help educate consumers about what to do to avoid or fix problems associated with identity theft, Equifax — one of the country’s biggest credit bureaus — just launched a consumer website called IdentityProtection.com.
The site features insights from experts, stories from people who’ve been hit with identity theft, and tips on how to combat this growing problem.
For parents, it’s important to know how to guard the identities of your children.
One smart precaution is to limit the times and places where you give out your child’s social security number. Just because your child’s day care center, summer camp, doctor’s office or after school activity club asks for your child’s social security number doesn’t mean you have to give it to them.
In fact there are a host of places where you should refrain from revealing your child’s social security number.
Putting this highly sensitive information in the wrong hands can lead to months if not years of financial and credit problems – not to mention wasted time and effort trying to clean up the damage inflicted by an identity thief.
If you want more tips about protecting you or your child’s identity, read the many articles I’ve written about the topic here on AskTheMoneyCoach.com. Just type in identity theft in the search box of our homepage.
Also, do check out the advice and information shared on IdentityProtection.com. It’s definitely worthwhile viewing for anyone who wants to keep his or her personal data – or a child’s private information – safe and secure.