Identity Theft Has New Victim
Provided by RBC Wealth Management and the Neuman Wealth Management Group
Identity theft is an ongoing problem and perpetrators are now beginning to target the most vulnerable of our society, children. Although only a small percentage of identity theft cases currently involve victims younger than 18, the number is growing. In fact, the numbers are believed to be even higher due to the amount of time it takes to discover identity theft of a minor.
Thieves are targeting minors because they have spotless records and since they are not using credit, it can go undetected for many years. Sadly, parents remain unaware of the theft until the child tries to apply for a student loan or a job, and by then, the victim’s credit and employment history is tainted from years of unnoticed abuse.
There are some telling signs to be aware of when it comes to protecting your children’s identity from predators. First, protect their Social Security numbers. There is rarely a reason to give this out. However, there are times when a child’s doctor or school will require it. For example, you will likely have to provide it if the child is signed up to receive a government service.
Also never carry a child’s Social Security card or your own Social Security card with you in your purse or wallet. It is too easy to have the purse misplaced or stolen.
Another item to be watchful of is suspicious mail. If your child suddenly starts receiving mail that typically is sent only to adults such as pre-approved credit cards or other financial offers, that can be a red flag.
Setting up financial accounts for children is increasing in popularity. If you try to set one up for your child and are told that one already exists, you need to act immediately.
Parents can take an active role in ensuring that their children’s identity is protected. A good place to start is by establishing a rule to never give out a child’s Social Security number or any other personal information that is unnecessary for a third party to possess. Also, if you have established financial accounts for the child, make sure to opt out of the mailing list, making it easier for you to spot any suspicious mail.
If you have come to the conclusion that your child’s identity may have been stolen, you need to file an identity-theft incident report with the police. Then contact one of the three national credit reporting agencies and have a fraud alert put on the accounts. Upon proof that the fraud has happened to a minor, the agencies must remove the suspicious activity. But this can be a lengthy process, affected in part by how long the activity has been occurring. Also, make sure to cancel any accounts that the thief may have set up in your child’s name.
Identity theft of children is unfortunately a reality in today’s world. Parents can protect their children by being aware of the many pitfalls out there and prepared to handle any troubles should they arise.
This article is provided by Eric St. Martin, a Senior Financial Associate at RBC Wealth Management in Stillwater, MN, and was prepared by or in cooperation with RBC Wealth Management. The information included in this article is not intended to be used as the primary basis for making investment decisions nor should it be construed as a recommendation to buy or sell any specific security. RBC Wealth Management does not endorse this organization or publication. Consult your investment professional for additional information and guidance. RBC Wealth Management does not provide tax or legal advice. For additional information please visit www.neumanwmgroup.com or call 651-430-5535.
RBC Wealth Management, a division of RBC Capital Markets LLC, Member NYSE/FINRA/SIPC