The Better Business Bureau is warning parents to look out for their children's identities. They are reporting hundreds of online businesses stealing children's inactive social security numbers online, and selling them to people to establish fake credit.
BBB President Monica Horton says this is a growing problem. She says thieves are attracted to children's identities because of their clean slates. Horton says parents should protect their children's identities because cases may go undiscovered for years and are hard to track. She told Newschannel Six, "Parents need to be proactive and protect their children's identity just as they do their own." She says even Debix, the company that monitors identity theft, found 4,000 identities stolen were from kids out of the 40,000 they tracked. But, she warns there are probably even more that are undetected.
Horton says it's, "A growing problem. This problem is hard to measure because it goes undetected for so many years until the minor eventually wants to apply for a credit." She says kids might not even find out until they are 18 when they apply for a credit card or try to gain credit. Experts recommend parents check a child's credit on their 16th birthday. We spoke with one Texoman who told us, "Checking it at 16 makes you know where you stand at that age. Whether your credit is good or not if you keep it up constantly if anything happens if somebody steals your identity; you'll be able to stand your ground and say this is not me."
Horton says not to disregard red flags like pre-approved credit card offers for minors as well as getting collection calls from agencies. Horton says, "Don't just disregard those collection calls thinking oh I don't have an account with them. They don't know who they're talking to. Well, the thieves might have compromised your social security number, and they're probably using your information."
Horton also says checking a child's credit at age 16 allows time to clean up any discrepancies before the minor turns 18 and needs to get financial aid or credit for schools. The Better Business Bureau advices parents to check their child's credit here but if they are under 13 they need to check it with TransUnion directly. However, they do not advice to check it constantly for it can impact the minor's credit negatively.