Each year, many Utah children become victim’s of identity theft. Thieves are using children’s Social Security numbers to obtain employment, government benefits, utilities, auto loans, credit accounts, medical care, and mortgages. All of which could harm your child’s credit history and/or prevent them from obtaining loans or government benefits in the future. You can help prevent child identity theft by keeping your child’s Social Security number in a secured location, and by only providing it to the IRS for tax purposes, and to organizations that you trust will keep it safe.
However, thieves can still get your child’s Social Security number, even after you have taken all of the preventative steps. In these situations, thieves typically obtain Social Security numbers that were manufactured in an illegal “document mill” and sold out on the street. Thieves primarily use the stolen Social Security numbers to obtain employment. When this happens, you cannot prevent the misuse of your child’s Social Security Number. Fortunately, Utah’s Legislature passed Section 35A-4-312.5 to specifically deal with this type of identity theft. The statute allows the Department of Workforce Services to notify the person and report the misuse of their Social Security number. The statute also allows the Department of Workforce Services to share the work history information of the victim with law enforcement, so that they can investigate the crime.
Repair the Damage
If you have received a notice from the Department of Workforce Services or another government agency regarding the misuse of your child’s Social Security number, or if you know that your child’s identity is being misused, do the following:
- Report the crime at ID Theft Central www.idtheft.utah.gov, or to your local police department.
- Make sure you receive a police report with a case number.
- Ask the investigating officer to request a work history report on the misused Social Security number from the Department of Workforce Services. This will help the police investigate the crime.
- If your child is under the age of 17, be sure to enroll the child in the Child Identity Protection program at ID Theft Central
- Contact the three credit reporting agencies to check whether your child has a credit report.
- Equifax 1-800-525-6285
- Experian 1-888-397-3742
- TransUnion 1-800-680-7289
- Contact any financial institution where a credit account was created and ask them to close the account. You may need to provide the bank your police report and an affidavit.
- Contact the government agency that refused your child benefits and provide them a copy of your police report to prove your child is a victim of identity theft. You also may need to provide the agency with a copy of your child’s Birth Certificate and Social Security card in order to prove your child is the not the person using the information for employment.
There are warning signs that may help you become aware that someone is misusing your child’s Social Security number to commit identity theft. You or your child might:
- receive a notice from the Department of Workforce Services or another government agency.
- get turned down for government benefits, because someone else is receiving benefits using your child’s Social Security number.
- be contacted by a collection agency for debt that was acquired using your child’s information.
- receive bills or notices for products or services you did not authorize.
- get a notice from the IRS indicating taxes were not paid on income, or that your child’s Social Security number was used on another tax return.
Take steps to protect your child’s identity from misuse:
- Keep you children’s Social Security numbers in a secured location.
- Do not store your child’s Social Security number in your wallet or purse.
- Do not allow others to use your child’s Social Security number.
- Do not share your child’s Social Security number unless it is with a trusted organization. Be sure to ask why the organization needs the Social Security number, how it will be protected, how long will they maintain the number, and how will they dispose of the number.
- Do not let an adult “adopt” your child’s Social Security number, so that they can obtain employment, get out of financial trouble, or acquire a loan.
When Your Child Turns 16
It is a good idea to contact the three credit reporting agencies when your child is close to the age of 16 to check whether they have a credit report. If there is one, and it is not accurate due to fraud or misuse, make sure you work with the credit reporting agencies to get the information cleared from the report.