Is your child’s credit at risk for identity theft?

According to the 2012 Child Identity Fraud survey, 1 in 40 households with children under age 18 had at least one child whose personal information had been compromised.

Some adults say that credit accounts had been opened in their names, even though they were young children at the time.

What can you do to prevent someone from ruining your child’s credit history?

Well, first of all, experts say that children should not have credit reports. A credit report in the name of a child who has never applied for or been granted credit is likely a sign that something is wrong, ABC News reports.

The Federal Trade Commission urges parents to find out whether their child has a credit report around his or her 16th birthday. “If there is one — and it has errors due to fraud or misuse — you will have time to correct it before the child applies for a job, a loan for tuition or a car, or needs to rent an apartment,” advises the FTC’s website.

Here are a few things to look out for: 

Debt collectors contact the child attempting to collect a debt.

A child who starts driving is denied a license because one has already been issued in his or her name.
A parent tries to open a bank account for their child, but is told they can’t due to a negative history with bureaus that report checking and savings account information.

Numerous pre-approved credit offers arrive in the child’s name. (Don’t sweat occasional offers; that probably just means they are on a mailing list.)

Bills for utilities or credit cards arrive with the child’s name on them.

Keep in mind that some young people may have credit histories before they reach the age of 18.

“Children may have a credit report because they are listed as authorized users or joint account holders on an adult’s account,” says Searcy. But if the minor child or their parent obtains a copy of their credit report and discovers accounts that they don’t recognize, it’s a big red flag. Unfortunately, this crime is sometimes committed by family members, complicating things even further for the victim.

More tips and how to protect your child’s credit here. (On mobile )

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