How do you know if your child's identity has been stolen? Calls from collections agents, letters from the IRS or Social Security Administration, jury summons, traffic tickets or other suspicious mail can be indicators. If the IRS tells you the Social Security number you listed as a dependent is listed on another tax return, or if you try to set up a bank account for your child and the request is denied, those can also be signs. A credit card pre-approval offer is sometimes suspicious, but Velasquez points out older children may have college funds or savings accounts that put them on financial institutions' marketing lists. Still, it's worth calling to find out how the company got your child's information.
If you suspect someone is using your child's information for financial purposes, check your son or daughter's credit report. Children shouldn't have a credit report, but if they do, then you'll want to sort out any misinformation. First, contact the credit bureaus and ask them to put a fraud alert on your child's file. Next, file an ID Theft Affidavit with the Federal Trade Commission and a police report. Once you have those documents, you can contact the credit bureaus again and notify any banks or credit card issuers involved about the fraud.
Fixing identity theft can be a long, arduous process, but Souede says it's worth starting before your child turns 18 and wants to apply for student loans, get a job or find an apartment. "The longer it went on undetected, the harder it is to unwind," he says.