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Protect Your Children From Identity Theft
by Evans Attwell
Senior Vice President
Frost Private Banking

Tom FlanaganYour child may be too young to apply for credit, own a debit card, or even count to 10, but his or her identity can be stolen with relative ease, and the consequences can be devastating and long-term.

A 2013 research survey (latest year available) drew attention to this growing problem when it revealed that one in 40 families with children under 18 had at least one child whose personal information had been compromised by identity thieves.

These criminals target children because their financial history is a blank slate, and they never check their credit record. A child’s Social Security number, the holy grail of personal information, is especially desirable to identity thieves who can use it to create a new “synthetic” identity, open bank accounts and credit cards, rent an apartment, start a new job, access government benefits, take out major loans, and commit crimes—all under the child’s name.
In many cases, the fraud goes undetected until the child later applies for student loans or a job, or tries to get housing. It can take years of exhausting effort and considerable financial resources to track and untangle fraudulent data, activities, and accounts; clear the victim’s name; and repair the credit record.

As their parent, you are your children’s first line of defense against an assault on their personal information.
Guard your child’s personal information.

Keep your child’s Social Security card in a secure place, and don’t carry it out and about. Limit the personal information you or your child shares on social media, and don’t sign up for unnecessary accounts, such as magazines, mailing lists, or loyalty rewards programs because they can sell your child’s information to third parties. Disclose your child’s Social Security number only when absolutely necessary.

Watch for suspicious activity,
such as preapproved credit cards, bills for unfamiliar services, or unexpected medical collection notices arriving in the mail, all in your child’s name. Additional red flags: calls from creditors about debt connected to your child or notices from the IRS about unpaid taxes on income or the use of your child’s Social Security number on another tax return.

Check your child’s credit report
with the major credit reporting agencies—Equifax, Experian, and Transunion. This action is especially critical if you suspect your child’s identity has been compromised, but a growing number of experts recommend you monitor your child’s credit report annually.

Would you like more information?
Contact Evans at 713.388.1367 or
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