October 26, 2021
– Nevada Attorney General Aaron D. Ford warns parents during Cybersecurity
Awareness Month that even minor children can be vulnerable to identity theft,
and parents should take steps to keep children’s personal information safe.
than ever, children are connected online, whether through social media, by
using smart toys, online games or simply by entering information on a phone,
tablet or computer,” said AG Ford. “A child’s personal information could
be used to apply for government benefits, open a bank account, apply for a
loan, sign up for utilities or even rent a place to live.”
Children’s Personal Information
With the internet and all of the services
collecting personal data, there are several ways your child’s identity could be
compromised. Take precautions like the following:
If anyone asks for
your child’s Social Security number, such as a school, ask why it is needed and
what the organization or business will do to protect it.
Request the use of a
different identifier when possible. While providing only the last four digits of
a SSN is preferable to the entire number, even a partial SSN can be risky for
children born prior to June 25, 2011, because only SSNs issued after that date
were randomized by the Social Security Administration.
Treat any of your
child’s identifying documents as you would your own; lock up Social Security
cards, birth certificates and medical bills in a safe place. Shred any
documents you don’t need rather than throwing them away.
Smart toys, such as baby monitors, talking
dolls or smart teddy bears, may also pose an identity theft risk, as the
devices may be storing information that could be hacked by unscrupulous third
parties. Before buying one of these devices, read product reviews to find out
if the toy or device has any reports of security risks. Read the device’s
the toy will update security patches automatically, or if you will have to
periodically check for updates. Consider not using your child’s full name and
information to set up any accounts associated with the toy. Finally, monitor
how your child uses the toy and discuss with your child how to safely use the
Monitor your child’s social media accounts
and activities on online games. Avoid sharing information on social media that
could be used for security questions, such as pets' names, elementary school
names, employment history and full birthdays. Be aware that quizzes or other
games on social media may be designed to collect personal information. Consider whether you want your child to use
their full name on social media accounts or online games. If you do allow your
child to create an account, make yourself a part of their network so you can
see what they are posting.
Lastly, have an open dialogue with your
child about online safety. Educate them that people online may not be who they
claim to be and that they should protect their personal information.
What To Do If
Your Child’s Identity is Compromised
Despite your best efforts, your child’s
personally identifying information may be stolen. Some signs that your child’s
identity may have been stolen include:
benefits are denied because someone is already using your child’s Social
You receive calls
for past due bills in your child’s name for accounts you did not open;
You received letters
from the IRS claiming unpaid taxes in your child’s name, which could be the
result of someone using their Social Security number for a job; and
You are denied
student loans for your child because of bad credit associated with your child’s
Social Security number.
Even if you don’t experience any of the
above signs, you may still consider checking to see if your child has a credit
report. Generally, if your child is under 18, he or she will not have a credit
report unless someone is using their identity. Call each of the three credit
bureaus — Equifax, Experian and TransUnion — and ask for a manual search of
your child’s Social Security number. When your child turns 16, you may consider
searching if he or she has a credit report so you can correct any information
before your child starts looking for a job, student loans or a place to live. You can also freeze your child's credit with
each of the credit bureaus.
If your child’s identity is compromised,
take the following steps to correct it:
Report and close any
false accounts. Call the companies where the accounts are set up and close the
account. Ask for written confirmation that it has been done.
Contact the three
credit bureaus and ask them to remove the false information from your child’s
Freeze your child’s
credit report. If your child is younger than 16, you can request a free credit
freeze. The freeze will remain until you remove it. Your child can also remove
it themselves at age 16.
Report the identity
theft to local law enforcement and the Federal Trade Commission. Include as many details as possible.