Proactive tips to help ward off identity fraud against children

Children make easy targets for identity theft and fraudulent activity due to their pristine credit profiles and dormant Social Insurance Numbers (SIN). Predators are drawn to these identities because of this inactivity and the child’s presumed invisibility in the credit system. For these reasons it’s so important for parents to be vigilant in protecting the identities of their children.

Protect

Never give out your child’s SIN unless you already know and trust the recipient. It is okay to question why they need it, what they will do with it, and how they plan on safeguarding it.

Never carry your child’s SIN card or number in a purse or wallet. Leave it at home in a secure place or in a safety deposit box.

Talk to your children about the risks of giving their personal information out to anyone online. It’s wise for today’s parents to monitor their kid’s activities online and through mobile devices, leaving them less chance for personal exposure.

Teach your child the risks of providing personal information, such as a SIN or mother’s maiden name, to anyone online or to anyone outside the immediate family. Don’t give children their SINs until they’re old enough to know how to properly use and protect them.

Shred anything that includes your child’s personal information before putting it in the trash. A cross-shredder is a wise household investment so all documents with personal identifying information can be thoroughly destroyed.

Monitor

Watch out for warning signs, such as:

  • Credit cards arriving in the child’s name or calls from creditors regarding current and past- due debts
  • Your child is unable to establish a checking or savings account, with or without a parent’s signature
  • You receive notice from the CRA that the child did not pay taxes on income or that their SIN was used on another tax return
  • Your child is denied their first job because the SIN does not verify to him or her

Monitor your child’s social networking accounts. Identity thieves troll social networking websites, so make sure private information like date of birth, address, and names of family members are not included in profiles. It’s also a good idea to set privacy settings so your child’s profile can only be viewed by friends and family.

Regularly check to see if a credit file exists. It is always a good idea to regularly check whether your child has a credit report, especially if you suspect your child’s information has been compromised and could be misused. A credit file is typically only generated once a person begins applying for employment or credit. So your child should not have one until then. It would only take about 15 minutes to verify with the credit reporting agencies whether or not a credit file has been created under their name. If there is one and it has errors due to fraud or misuse you will have time to correct it before the child applies for a job, a loan for tuition or a car, or needs to rent an apartment.