Michelle of Honest & Truly!, 5 Minutes for Mom contributor, is here to share her insights into TransUnion’s credit monitoring through this sponsored post. While we were compensated to write this post, our writers views and opinions remain her own.
I come from a banking background with credit cards where one of the more tragic customer service issues we had to deal with – and we had to deal with it more frequently that I wish we did – was the aftermath of identity theft.
As much as our bank and others do their best to ensure that the applicant is exactly who he says he is, there are identities stolen and credit histories ruined every day. And our children – whose credit we almost never think about as parents – are ripe for thieves for that very reason. TransUnion now has a mobile app to help monitor your child’s credit via the TransUnion Credit Monitoring service.
As parents, we are the ones who need to keep on top of our children’s identities and doing what we can to minimize the risk of becoming a victim of child identity theft. I can’t tell you how many forms I’ve filled out – and will fill out – that includes my children’s personal information from physical forms to school registration forms to after school activities and sports, and more. Not surprisingly, children make a tempting target for identity thieves as theft of a child’s identity may go undetected for years – with possible serious consequences – including damaged credit.
“Identity theft can affect your child’s future credit and employment prospects if the perpetrator, who in many cases is a friend of the family or even a relative, obtains credit accounts using the child’s Social Security number. “The good news is there are steps parents can take to help minimize their child’s risk of becoming a victim and signs to watch out for that could signal their child’s identity has possibly been compromised or stolen.”
There are steps we can take to minimize the risk for our children (and ourselves for that matter).
- Be mindful of the personal information that your child is carrying. Make sure their information is kept in a safe spot and not just tossed in the bottom of a school bag. Help your child memorize their personal information.
- Remind your child that they should never give out their personal information, especially to a stranger, and it should only be given to a teacher or other person they trust and know.
- Consider hand-delivering directly to the school any forms with personal information or medical records instead of sending them with your child.
“In many cases the key elements required to open a credit account is a name and Social Security number. Since a child’s Social Security number represents a ‘clean slate’ and has the potential to go undetected for years, it represents an appealing target to most identity theft thieves,” said Julie Springer, TransUnion’s vice president responsible for consumer education.
With it taking on average 334 days to discover that a child’s identity has been stolen and over 19,000 cases of child identity theft reported in 2001, it can seem daunting. There are clues that something may be amiss, however, if you know what to look for.Some possible warning signs of child identity theft include:
- The child beginning to receive suspicious mail, like pre-approved credit cards and other financial offers normally sent to adults, in their name.
- The parent trying to open a financial account for the child, but finds one already exists or learns the application is denied because of a poor credit history. A credit report already exists in their name. If the child has one, they may have been targeted already, since typically, an application for credit, a credit account, or a public record starts the compilation of a consumer credit file.
In the event that identity thieves may have targeted your child, TransUnion can help. After completing our secure Child Identity Theft Inquiry Form, TransUnion can investigate the existence of a potential credit file in your child’s name using the information provided. After TransUnion’s search is complete, they will respond using the email address provided. If TransUnion locates a file in the child’s name, they will ask the parents for additional information in order to proceed with steps to protect the child from any impact associated with this fraudulent activity.
Michelle may never stop running around Chicagoland, but she always makes time for the important things in her life – her wee ones, cooking, reading, and spending time with friends – and of course, writing. You can see what she’s up to on her blog Honest & Truly! or on Twitter where she tweets as @HonestAndTruly.