Identity theft occurs when someone steals your identity to commit fraud. Identity Theft is the unauthorized use or attempted use of an existing account or using Personal Identifying Information (PII) to open a new account.
PII includes, but is not limited to:
- Your name, previous names or aliases
- Social Security number
- Current address
- Phone Number
- Birth date
- Account numbers and/or statements
Someone who steals your identity can piece together parts of a minor’s PII with an adult’s PII to create an identity or for financial gain. For this reason, parents, guardians, social workers, and other responsible parties are encouraged to check with the three major Credit Reporting Agencies (CRAs) to see if children under age 18 have a credit report.
To resolve ID theft found on a youth’s credit report, follow the steps below:
*If the youth you are working with is currently over 18, but the accounts in question were opened prior to their 18th birthday, use the instructions for UNDER 18.
Key Actions for Protecting a Youth’s Identity
When mailing information to the CRAs, we recommend sending the information via certified mail with return receipt to ensure you are notified when your documentation is received. As with any sensitive documentation, please be aware of the potential for added exposure of PII when sending documents through the mail and/or uploading documents to a website. Be sure to practice smart privacy measures, such as shredding documents and securing your devices.
- Protect social security number and other sensitive information
- Check the credit report regularly
- Review all financial/bank statements closely
- Practice security with electronic and physical information
- Opt out of pre-screened offers for credit and insurance www.optoutprescreen.com
- Do not share personal information with others
- Watch out for scams www.consumer.ftc.gov/features/scam-alerts
- File taxes as early as possible
Placing a Credit Freeze
If you decide to place a credit freeze, you will need to freeze your credit at each of the credit bureaus. Visit our Credit Freeze page.
If the minor does not have a credit report on file, consider freezing their credit anyway; this serves as a preventative measure against future fraud.
IF YOU OPT NOT TO FREEZE THEIR CREDIT
Continue to check a report from each CRA at least once per year. It is particularly important to take these actions once a child turns 16, as this will allow you to address any potential issues prior to the minor becoming a legal adult, when he/she will likely rely on credit for things like loans (e.g., student or auto), renting an apartment, etc.
IF A CREDIT REPORT DOES NOT EXIST, YOU can STILL request a freeze
Again, regardless of whether a credit report exists, parents, guardians, and child welfare representatives of minors can request a security freeze – also known as a credit freeze – on the child’s behalf. Taking this step can help protect a young person from identity theft and fraud, at no cost. Also note that minors aged 16 or 17 can request their own security freeze.
HELP FROM EXPERIAN:
For more information on how to protect yourself after your information is stolen