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If you’re expecting a new baby, you know there are a handful of items you need to get in order to prepare. Crib? Check. Diapers? Check. Changing table, car seat, stroller and bottles? Check, check, check. But protecting your child against identity theft? Usually not on your radar.

Yet protecting your little one’s identity starts now. In 2017 alone, more than one million children were victimized by identity fraud. And according to one university study, children were 51 times more likely to become victims of identity theft than adults. Follow these tips to help keep your child’s Social Security number safe and keep fraudsters from stealing their identity.

Identify Warning Signs

  1. Little Timmy receives a pre-approved credit offer in the mail. Credit bureaus keep files of those who have a history of borrowing money. If you’re receiving these offers, there’s a good chance a card has already been opened in your child’s name.
  2. Otherwise qualified government benefits are denied. While there are many factors that go into government benefit approvals, getting a denial letter could indicate that the benefit is going to another account using your child’s Social Security number.
  3. Your child is delinquent…on taxes. Consider it a big red flag if you get an IRS letter stating that your child did not pay income taxes, or that the Social Security number was already used on another tax return.
  4. You get collection calls about unpaid bills. While there is no shortage of stories of kids ordering expensive dollhouses and pounds of cookies, if you get calls or letters for services or products you didn’t receive, it could mean someone is misusing your child’s personal information.

How to Protect Your Child’s Identity

  1. Keep all electronic and paper records in a safe location. Shred all documents with your child’s information that are unnecessary to keep.
  2. Keep your child’s Social Security number a secret. Ask if you can use an alternative identifier or use only the last digits of the number.
  3. Opt-out of school directories, if you can. Schools maintain a plethora of personal information—make sure you know who they share it with.
  4. Be aware of adults who would take advantage. If there is a break-in at your home, be sure to double-check that your child’s information hasn’t been compromised. And it’s okay to keep overly-interested acquaintances at a distance—they may be trying to steal your child’s information.

If you are a victim of a child identity theft scam, you’ll have to repair the damage. Reach out directly to the companies where the fraud occurred (rather than responding to oh-so-real looking emails and letters), contact credit bureaus or consider a child credit freeze. Another viable option is reporting the identity theft to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

How Verve can help

If you think your child’s savings account at Verve may be at risk because someone is misusing your child’s personal information, or you are a victim of any other type of scam, call Verve immediately at 800.448.9228. One of our team members can help safeguard your account against fraud.

It’s Verve’s goal to provide education, training and information to help our members stay financially fit. Verve is committed to keeping our members educated when it comes to their finances by providing details on financial risks and ways to stay safe. Help your friends and family stay safe against child identity theft by sharing this blog post.