Parents have a lot to worry about. Childhood illnesses, homework, bullies. But did you know that credit reports should be on that list, too?

Identity thieves can use a child’s social security number to secure a loan, rent an apartment, or apply for a cell phone plan. Here’s how to keep their information safe:

Take Preventative Measures

Your child’s social security number should only be given out on a need to know basis — and most people don’t need to know. Schools, school-related programs, doctor’s offices, and even sporting groups often request this sensitive information. Before you hand it over, find out if they really need it.

Whenever possible, provide an alternate form of identification or ask if you can give just the last 4 digits of the social security number. Other safety measures include:

  • Don’t send forms containing your child’s personal information through the mail. Always hand them in personally.
  • Ask to view a copy of the privacy policy from ANY institution that requests personal information.
  • Find out how personal information is stored at your child’s school, doctor’s office, etc.
  • Never include your child’s information in 3rd party directories.

Warning Signs That Your Child’s Identity Has Been Stolen

The number one sign that your child’s identity has been compromised is receiving loan offers or credit card applications in the mail.

Other signs include:

  • Receiving a notice from the IRS stating that your child hasn’t paid taxes
  • Getting collection calls or letters for accounts you didn’t open
  • Having your own income taxes rejected because someone is already using your child’s SS number

How To Repair The Damage

If you find out your child’s information has been compromised, there are several things you can do.

First, if you find any errors on a credit report, follow the directions for correcting those errors on the agency’s website.

Next, contact the companies where the fraud occurred. Ask them to close the account and confirm that your child isn’t liable.

Lastly, report the fraud to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) as quickly as possible to limit the damage. Protecting your child’s credit can help set them up for a lifetime of success!