A recent check of 40,000 children by an identity monitoring company found that 4,000 or 1 in 10 had their identities compromised in some way making children, in actuality, an even bigger target for identity thieves than adults. Unfortunately, unless you already suspect that your child’s identity has been tampered with, both the Federal Trade Commission and the Identity Theft Resource Center do not recommend checking your child’s credit report annually as that can actually create a credit file prematurely, making the child an even easier target for fraud. Signs that your child may already be compromised include offers of credit or other offers mailed to the home in the child’s name, trouble opening bank accounts for the children or strange identity-related questions when applying for schools or outside activities. Their recommendations: Check your child’s credit history every 3 to 4 years making sure you check at age 16 to allow time for any corrections that might need to be made before the child applies for college and financial aid.
Checking a child’s credit report is a different, more complicated process than checking an adults. All three credit bureaus require direct contact versus the online process available for adults. The most parent friendly bureau and a good place to start is Transunion. More information on child identity theft and on checking your child’s credit report is available on the Identity Theft Resource Center web site or on the Federal Trade Commission web site.