A Branson, Missouri couple couldn’t believe it when their seven-year-old daughter’s name appeared on an apartment lease several states away.
But once they figured out her identity had been stolen, their shock turned to anger. Unfortunately, identity thieves have increasingly targeted children with Social Security numbers to pull off financial scams. The good news is that there is an easy way out.
The original story comes from KY3 News, in Springfield, Missouri. Philip Parsons, a Branson resident, was floored by a phone call from a collection agency looking for payment on some late bills – for his seven-year-old daughter, Arwen.
It turns out that identity thieves had stolen the girl’s Social Security number, which the Parsons had gotten shortly after Arwen’s birth, and used it to lease an apartment, get a phone – and even get satellite television.
Parsons was able to convince the collection agency that his family was the victim of identity theft – but now, well after the incident, he tells KY3 News that he isn’t taking any chances.
“Every year I check our credit but (now) I check theirs as well,” he said. To this day, Parsons says he “has no idea” how the identity crooks lifted his daughter’s Social Security number.
What can parents do to keep their families safe from identity thieves?
If you can afford the monthly fee of $15-$18, companies like IDENTITY GUARD® and Identity Lookout offer identity theft protection packages for families.
Past that, check your kid’s bank account regularly, and, if applicable, go ahead and check your child’s credit report. You can get a free credit report from all three credit reporting agencies once per year and completely free of charge.
If you suspect your child has been victimized by identity theft, contact the law authorities right away. Also, let the major credit bureaus know there’s been an identity breach. When you do so, make sure you have the following information at hand:
- Your child’s name, address and date of birth
- A copy of your child’s birth certificate
- A copy of your child’s social security card
- A copy of your drivers license (with your current address)
Don’t assume that because your child is still small enough to have a booster seat, or drinks out of juice boxes, that he or she isn’t vulnerable to identity theft.
The fact is, criminals don’t care where they get a Social Security number – or how old the target might be. Know that, and you’ve just taken the first of several concrete steps to protect your child’s personal identity.
Image by Spamily, via Flickr