Child Identity Theft: How to Prevent Kids From Becoming Fraud Victims

As children become more connected, they may become easy targets for scammers. Here's how parents can prevent that from happening

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Tablets, video games, and laptops are hot items this shopping season and may be among the gifts your child will receive this holiday.

As children become more connected, they may become easy targets for scammers. Child ID theft is becoming more common, according to a recent study.

According to a study from Javelin Strategy and Research, $918 million in child identity fraud losses were reported in the last year during the pandemic.

“We live in a very fast-paced environment. It's very easy just to hand your child a mobile device and not really pay attention to what's going on, but you're putting yourself and your child at very great risk,” said Tracy Kitten, the director of fraud and security with Javelin Strategy and Research.

Parents can prevent their kids from becoming a victim of fraud by limiting their internet access, Kitten said.

According to Javelin’s study, your child has a one in 45 chance of having his or her personal information exposed in a data breach.

This is a concern for parent Kirsten Hillsey. Her 10-year-old and 7-year-old are into apps, video games and other technology.

“They have different log-ins for lots of different apps that they use, whether it's for fun or for school. So there's a lot of different ways that they could get hacked, I guess,” Hillsey said.

Kitten suggests freezing your child’s credit.

“Hands down, freezing a child's credit is the best way to ensure that you're protecting your child's identity. It's very easy to freeze credit,” Kitten said.

You can do this by going to the websites for the three credit bureaus. It’s free and you can lift the freeze at any time. You can also check your child’s credit score to see if any accounts have been opened in their name.

“There are a lot of different services out there also that will help you with freezing your child's credit. So we call them identity protection services. A lot of these services are provided free of charge to your financial institution,” Kitten said.

Javelin’s study found that in most cases, a child’s identity is stolen by someone they know, such as a relative.

You can reach the full study here.

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