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Child identity theft isn’t something we often think about. However, it occurs more often than you might expect. According to Javelin’s Child Identity Fraud Reportchild identity theft affects 1.25 million kids every year, which translates to about one in 50 children in America. When you see those numbers, it becomes apparent that we must act now to protect the children in our lives.

What is Child Identity Theft? 

According to the Federal Trade Commission, “Child identity theft happens when someone takes a child’s sensitive personal information and uses it to get services or benefits or to commit fraud. They might use your child’s Social Security number, name and address, or date of birth.” 

Child identity theft happens for a multitude of reasons. The perpetrator could use this information to open a bank or credit card account, apply for government benefits, or even sign up for a utility service or rent a place to live. Much like other types of identity theft, it can be easy for this type of identity theft to go undetected for months or even years. 

How It Happens

As with adults, identity theft against children can happen through a variety of sources. Here are some ways that children’s personal identifying information (PII) could be exposed and then potentially used for fraudulent purposes.

Warning Signs Of Child Identity Theft

Here are some warning signs that someone may have stolen your child’s identity:

How You Can Help Protect Your Children 

The best way to help protect your family from identity theft is to be proactive in preventing it. The most effective preventative measure is education that will protect them now, but also as adults. 

Keep Important Documents in a Secure Location.

Keep your family’s personal identifying information in a secure place in your home, be selective about what services you sign up for, and don’t give your information out unless it is absolutely necessary. Make sure that any important documents in your home – such as Social Security cards, birth certificates, or other legal documents – are stored securely, to avoid compromise.

Share Personal Information with Caution. 

Assess the need before listing your child’s Social Security number (SSN) on forms. Schools and school break camps shouldn’t be using it as the only unique ID for each child. If you must provide an SSN, then ask to share only the last four digits of your child’s SSN.

Educate Your Child. 

Talk to your child about the importance of privacy and the dangers of sharing personal information, online and offline. Ensure that your child isn’t sharing personal information like their birthdate, address, or school on social media, other online platforms, or with other individuals without your permission.

Secure Your Mail.

If you’re sending or receiving mail with personal details, then consider using a locked mailbox or choose electronic delivery. Retrieve your mail daily as soon after delivery as possible. Consider opting into the U.S. Postal Service’s “Informed Delivery” service. It’s free to sign up and it will provide a Daily Digest email that will preview your mail and packages scheduled to arrive soon, along with an image of each of your incoming letter-sized mail. This will help you stay vigilant for any missing mail that never arrives. 

Discard Unnecessary Documents with Care. 

If you have mail or other important documents that you no longer need to keep, then use a cross-cut shredder to securely destroy the paperwork. Criminals can engage in “dumpster diving” to retrieve discarded paperwork with personal information, potentially compromising you and your family.

Child identity theft can have long-lasting consequences, potentially impacting your child’s credit and future opportunities. Remain vigilant, educate your child, and keep an eye on personal information to protect your child from identity theft impacts.

We Are Standing Ready To Help You And Your Family 

If you suspect identity fraud has affected any member of your family, even your minor children, then you have access to a professional Identity Theft Recovery Advocate as a benefit of your Ultimate Checking account. Our team of Identity Theft Recovery Advocates is standing by, ready to support you and your family. Our Advocates are experienced in spotting child identity theft and supporting you through the process of repairing the harm.

Call 1-800-531-8456 to speak with a team member today.

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Each individual’s financial situation is unique. We encourage you to contact United Texas Credit Union when seeking financial advice on the products and services discussed. This article is for educational purposes only; the authors assume no legal responsibility for the completeness or accuracy of the contents.


  1. Linda Norwood  |  

    Good article. My step son while living with his mother had his identity stolen to get the electric turned on by his mothers husband. Of course, the bill wasn’t paid. Our son had trouble getting any credit after he turned 20 and was not at home anymore. So it happens within the family unit.

    1. Karla  |  

      Hi Linda – Yes, unfortunately, it certainly does occur within the family unit. Thank you for your comment. – Karla

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