Has Your Child's Identity Been Stolen?

 Part 2 of 2
By Susan Beacham

It's Up to You to Protect Your Child's Financial Identity
Stealing a child's identity to open a credit account, apply for a loan, get a driver's license or rent an apartment can go undetected until the child grows up and needs to do a few of those things herself.

Click Here for Part 1

A few years ago, our daughters, Allison and Amanda, then ages 12 and 13, began receiving credit offers in the mail. At first I laughed, thinking it was absurd that a middle-school child would be receiving such offers. Then I started to wonder why.

After talking with parents of other middle-schoolers, I came up with a theory. Many of us had recently applied for frequent-flyer numbers for our kids. Soon after, the credit offers started jamming the mailbox. Those frequent-flyer miles came with strings attached.

Certainly, the experience of a handful of middle-schoolers is not conclusive evidence that airline and credit card companies are in cahoots to get our kids into the credit world. But it was enough to convince me to take a hard look at all the mail that comes in for the girls and to be much more careful about giving out their personal information.

When someone - it can be a stranger, but more often it's a parent or guardian - steals your child's name, address, social security number or other personal information and uses it for their own financial gain, the first signs that something is wrong often come through the mail.

Signs of Possible Trouble

Monica, who did not want her real name to be used, didn't discover her identity had been stolen as a child until she was an adult. She had just become engaged and went to the bank to open a savings account with her fiancé. Their application was rejected, the bank told her, because she had bad credit.

"I assumed it was my college loans," Monica recalls.

To confirm it, she ordered a copy of her credit report and discovered, to her horror, that she owed more than $40,000 in credit-card debt.

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