It is one thing to steal our identity as an adult, but children are defenseless against this type of fraud. According to Experian, it handles 25,000-30,000 cases of identity theft and fraud every year and a whopping 17 percent affected children and the estimate is that it will affect up to 25 percent of children before they reach the age of 18. That is a disturbing statistic.

According to Michael Bruemmer of Experian, children can be targeted at birth when parents apply for Social Security numbers at the hospital, and children are vulnerable because most don’t have a credit file and aren’t checking their credit report.

Warning signs for parents to pay attention to include:

  • A child receiving a credit card offer in the mail that wasn’t requested
  • Receiving an IRS notice of delinquent taxes in the child’s name
  • Collection calls regarding unpaid bills for products or services

Tips for parents to use on protecting their children’s identity include:

  • Teach your children not to give their personal information to anyone
  • Monitor and teach your children the importance of being careful about sharing their personal information on line or on social media sites
  • Get a copy of your child’s credit report and monitor your child’s credit like you monitor your own
  • Push back on people and don’t allow your child’s Social Security number or other personal information to be shared with anyone who doesn’t have a need to have it (even if there is a blank on the form asking for a SSN, ask why and refuse to give it)
  • Teach your children the importance of their SSN and personal information and to keep it safe

Help your children combat identity theft and protect them from being one of the 25 percent who will be victims before they are 18.