In 2017, more than 1 million children were the victim of identity theft. A recent study by the credit bureau Experian has uncovered some mind-boggling data regarding these identity theft events. The facts about child identity theft are eye-opening and any parent should review them carefully. We will also help you recognize warning signs so that you can quickly resolve a theft of your child’s identity.

Child Identity Theft Facts

Experian has brought to light some truly terrifying statistics regarding child identity theft in their latest study. It was found that the average child identity theft victim is 12 years of age, but the highest number of victims are aged 15-17.

Here are some of the standout statistics from the Experian study:

  • Over 50% of victims discovered the theft on their own and many after the age of 18.
  • 33% of the time the victims knew the criminal behind the identity theft. 43% of these instances it was the victim’s parent who was the perpetrator. 73% of the time it was a family member.
  • Of the child identity theft victims surveyed, the average time it took to resolve the issue was 3 years.
  • 1 in 4 child identity theft victims are still dealing with the consequences over 10 years after the event.

Warning Signs

Identity theft can not be prevented, it can only be safeguarded against and detected as quickly as possible once it happens. Child identity theft is the most difficult to detect because there is often no reason to check a child’s credit score (in fact, they shouldn’t have a credit report at all). Here are some warning signs to look for which may tip you off to a possible theft of your child’s identity:

  • A bill or credit card is received in the mail addressed to your child.
  • A collection agency calls for your child.
  • Receiving promotional mail in your child’s name.

The other most common ways that child identity theft was discovered were:

  • When a parent tries to open an account for a child through a bank.
  • An identity theft restoration service notifies the parent or victim.
  • Parent contacted a credit bureau to see if their child had a credit report.

Protecting Your Child’s Data

Here are a few ways to help avoid child identity theft:

  • As of September 21, 2018, parents in the US can place a credit freeze on their children’s accountthrough the 3 major credit bureaus. These freezes are now free and can be placed by a parent until the age of 16.
  • Keep important documents, such as social security card, birth certificate and passport, in a secure location.
  • Shred documents with important information that aren’t being stored.
  • Do not share your child’s personal information with outside family members or friends.
  • Keep close watch over your children and what they are doing online.
  • Do not post personal information on social media.

Should your child become a victim of identity theft, having been subscribed to an identity theft restoration service prior to the event will save you countless hours and possibly thousands of dollars. Families of child identity theft were subjected to over $540 million in out-of-pocket costs in attempts to resolve the situation.

The facts about child identity theft which were provided by the Experian survey are extremely important. We hope that you are now more aware of the dangers that are out there and can now better protect your children’s identity.