With the popularity of social networking sites, our lives are more and more exposed to the rest of the world. This will sometimes not include only our names, but also our photographs, where we live, and our friends. This results in several risks and potential problems, among which is identity theft.
Identity thieves can search for names online and use these names and identities to perpetrate fraud. Sometimes, they can even access other details like social security numbers, birth dates, bank details, and the like. If you suspect that your child’s name has been stolen and used for frauds or scams, you can run a credit check to prove your suspicions. This can also involve his other details, most important of which is the SSN.
The worst case scenario is that your child’s SSN may have been used to fraudulently apply for credit cards or loans, thereby affecting his future credit rating. At the very least, you can check if there had been breaches of security in any agency or office that maintains such records.
- Send a letter to at least three major credit reporting agencies. Ask for a copy of your child’s credit report. You can assume that one does not exist. But if a credit report exists for your child, this might be a sign that something is amiss. You can try several agencies, including Equifax, Experian, Fullerton, and TransUnion, among others.
- When you write these companies, explain your reason for requesting a credit check. Explain that you are suspecting your child’s name to have been used in fraudulent activity. You will need to provide some information along with your letter: your complete name, address and contact details. You will also need to give your child’s full name, birth date, and social security number. You should also establish your relationship with the child. For best results, request a search based on social security number, since fraudsters can sometimes use different names and birth dates, and match these with an SSN.
- When you send your letter, send it through certified mail, so you get a receipt once the company has received it.
- You can expect a response within 30 days. Otherwise, feel free to follow up regularly. If you still get no response, then you should file a report or complaint with the Federal Trade Commission, which regulates financial institutions and credit-checking companies. You can dial 1-877-FTC-HELP begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 1-877-FTC-HELP end_of_the_skype_highlighting (or 382-4357).
Asking for a credit report on your child is actually a double-edged sword. If you do suspect fraudulent activity using his SSN or name, then a credit report can help verify this. However, chances are your child does not have a credit history attributed to his SSN. Once the credit reporting agencies make one for your child, then he has a greater risk of his identity being stolen, in the event that his details leak from the credit reporting agencies.
This should, therefore, be a last resort you can use if, and only if, you suspect financial fraud being done in your child’s name. Be sure to use it with care and caution.