Child Identity Theft: Tomorrow May Be Too Late

by Robert Chappell

Boy on computer

Child identity theft affects 1 in every 40 households in America according to Javelin Strategy and Research.[i] The problem has become so widespread that AllClear ID recently stated that children are now targeted 35 times more often than are adults.[ii]  With approximately 500,000 children victimized each year, parents must take actions to protect their children.

First, educate yourself on the crime of child identity theft. Gaining an understanding that your child’s personal identifying information, such as their Social Security number, name, and date of birth is of value is a critical first step in the process. Next, share the information you have learned with your child. Ask him or her to keep their personal information private. This may be difficult at times as those asking will most likely be adults.

A great preventative step is to institute family policies that are proactive.  Some proactive measures may include cross-cut shredding of all critical documents that leave your home via the trash, ensuring all laptop computers have “hard” passwords, and never including a child’s Social Security number on a form without asking what the need is and how the form will be destroyed after use.  Take a look at your work space. While the display of family photos and personal memorabilia may create a more “home-like” environment at the office, be aware that you may be sharing personal information about your children that may be useful to an identity thief. Never include birthdates on the back of photos and never carry your child’s Social Security card in your purse or wallet.

Take responsibility for your family’s financial future. Make it a policy to obtain your FREE annual credit report for adults at Next, visit one of the three major credit agency websites (TransUnion, Equifax, or Experian) and follow their procedures to obtain a FREE credit report for your child. As an additional step when requesting your child’s report, ask each agency to do a “manual” search of your child’s Social Security number to uncover any use of your child’s number with another name.

Education is the key to prevention! Parents and guardians must take ownership of this process to protect children. Start today. Tomorrow may be too late.

Robert is an expert in the field of Child Identity Theft and is author of the book Child Identity Theft: What Every Parent Needs to Know (Rowman and Littlefield).More information on his work can be found at

[i] Javelin Strategy and Research. “2012 Child Identity Fraud Report” sponsored by the Identity Theft Assistance Center. Accessed March 9, 2013.
[ii] AllClear ID 2012. “Child Identity Theft Report 2012”. Accessed March 9, 2013.