Identity theft is one of the most common crimes in America. In fact, it has been estimated that there are at least 4.8 million cases of identity theft reported every year. The number of people who have fallen victim to identity theft over the years is staggering, but some victims aren’t aware that they’ve been robbed until it’s too late. Here are some ways you can prevent identity theft and what you should do if you or your child becomes a victim.
Identity theft is a form of crime in which someone claims ownership of the victim’s personal information, such as their name, address, and social security number. Once somebody has stolen your identity, they can use it to take out loans and credit cards in your name. They may even use it to apply for jobs and open bank accounts under your name. If you have been a victim of identity theft, it’s important that you contact the authorities right away so they can help you recover what has been stolen from you.
If your child becomes a victim of identity theft, here are some actions you can take to get things resolved:
- You should contact the police right away. They can help you to figure out which identity was stolen and what steps need to be taken to protect your child’s identity in the future. If you have an idea who might be responsible for stealing your child’s identity, you should contact the authorities so they can investigate and prosecute the person.
- Contact the companies that the fraud occurred on, and have them close the account(s). Let them know about your child’s personal information being stolen and used without permission, and have them write an official confirmation stating that your child is not responsible for the account anymore.
- Freeze your child’s credit report. After putting in the request, they can put a security freeze on their account, preventing any further damage being done.
- Report the identity theft to the Federal Trade Commission.
One of the most important things you can do to protect your child against identity theft is to educate them about the dangers. For example, explain the importance of using unique passwords and not sharing personal information with anyone, especially at school. Teach your children that it’s important to pay attention to their accounts and any financial statements they may have. This will help them spot any suspicious activity before they become victimized by identity theft.
Things you can do include:
- Setting up a monitoring service
- Installing parental controls on their devices
- Providing an emergency contact name if they are ever in trouble
Keep an eye out for warning signs such as unusual charges, email notifications from companies they don’t recognize, or phone calls from people they don’t know.
To be sure that your child’s identity is safe, you should monitor their online activity. There are options to do a background check on the person your child is living with or dating. If you suspect someone is using your child’s identity, it’s important to speak up. It’s better to be wrong than to live in fear of potential repercussions from not speaking up. Here are some warning signs you can watch out for:
If you or your child has been denied receiving benefits from the government, without a valid reason why this could be a major sign of identity theft.
If someone calls assuming that your child owes a bill that is unheard of, this is another sign that someone might have opened an account in their name.
If your child receives a letter from the IRS claiming that they owe money, this could indicate someone using your child’s social security number on their taxes.
If you suspect someone has taken your information and used it responsibly, don’t hesitate to reach out to them to make amends for any damage that may have been caused by the theft of their personal information.