Teen Identity Theft

Teen identity theftWhat Is Teen Identity Theft
Identity theft is a problem plaguing the nation. It is a felony offense defined by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) as “fraud that is committed or attempted, using a person’s identifying information without authority.” Identity theft can be an easy crime to commit, but investigating and prosecuting these crimes are complex and time-consuming.

Trying to teach teens about, and to protect them from, identity theft can be particularly tough. Many teens don’t have a strong understanding of their financial identity, the purpose of a Social Security number, and (in the age of displaying their lives on the Internet) the need to keep their personal information private.

Use the following guide to talk to teens about how identity thieves work, how to prevent identity theft, what teens can do if their identity is stolen, and where teens can go to learn more about identity theft.

Prevention Tips

  • Schools, athletic teams, and pediatric offices routinely request children's Social Security numbers for registration purposes. Before giving that information, always ask it is this required and by whom. If you do not like the answer, then decline to provide the data.
  • Don’t carry your child’s Social Security card in your wallet or purse and do not permit your teen to do so.
  • When your teen applies for his/her driver’s license, make certain that they do not permit their Social Security number to be used as the driver license identification number.
  • When your teen opens his/her first checking account, discuss how important it is to safeguard checks and banking account numbers and advise him/her to carefully monitor accounts for suspicious activities. Do the same when your teen applies for his/her first credit card.
  • Limit the copies of your child’s birth certificate that you give out. If copies are requested in order to allow your children to participate in sports or other extracurricular activities, ask who will have access to the information and where it will be stored.
  • Talk to your teen about why he/she should not give out personal financial information in response to phone calls from telemarketers or emails from unknown individuals or businesses.
  • Be sure to stress the importance of safeguarding information on the Internet.
  • Advise your teen to protect his/her credit cards and checkbook at all times and only carry what is absolutely necessary. Your teen should not take his/her credit cards or checkbooks when going out partying, for instance.
  • If your teen is headed off to college, discuss the importance of safeguarding financial documents, bank account statements, credit cards, and other personal records in their dorm room or apartment. Roommates, friends, and casual visitors can have prying eyes.
  • Check your child’s credit report annually for any unauthorized accounts and requests for credit.
Some warning signs of identity theft include pre-approved credit card offers arriving in your child’s name, unfamiliar bank, credit card, or other financial statements that are in your child’s name, and/or collection agency notifications or calls in your child’s name.

If you believe your child’s identity may have been stolen, contact one of the three major credit bureaus, immediately dispute any bills with fraudulent charges, and, visit the ID Theft Resource Center on the Federal Trade Commission Website.