7 Signs That Your Children's Social Security Number is at Risk

  • By David Lukic
  • Feb 22, 2021

 Something scary that you may not have even heard about is child identity theft where your children’s social security numbers could be at risk from scammers, hackers, and identity thieves.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) estimates that more than 3.5 million children have been affected by the theft of their social security number.

Basic Details About SSNs

When a baby is born, the parents notify the Social Security Administration, who issues a new number and sends the parents social security card for newborn.

Social security numbers are issued for life and typically never changed. If something is incorrect on your social security card, you must contact the Social Security Administration directly to get it changed.

Children's Social Security Number

The Dangers of a Stolen Children Social Security Number

Criminals have figured out that stealing a child’s SSN gives them a free pass to open new accounts, wrack up debt, take out loans, rent property, and even get a driver’s license. Some scammers even buy houses, get jobs and sign up for utilities using your child’s name and social security number.  The FTC reports that children as young as six months old are victims of this type of fraud.

The real danger is that this type of thing can go on for many years without you even being aware of it. By the time your child reaches high school or college and applies for credit and is rejected, the credit history damage is already done and will be very difficult to repair.

Sometimes these scammers use stolen SSNs to file fake tax returns, get refunds, claim exemptions, or even use the child tax or earned income tax credit.

Often the thieves steal children’s social security numbers and then turn around and sell them on the dark web for profit. There is a huge market for fresh, unused SSNs. Sometimes a stolen identity is worth $2 on the dark web, and organized crime has tapped into this lucrative market.

Depending on the damage done, if your child receives government benefits for a disability, those benefits may be at risk if your child’s identity is stolen. 

7 Signs that Your Child’s SSN is at Risk

Although this type of thing can go on for a long time unnoticed, there are usually signs that you can watch out for to gauge whether or not your child's social security number is being used for criminal activity. A few of the more obvious signs are:

  1. Credit Card Offers - If your young child or baby starts getting credit card or loan offers in the mail, this should be a big red flag that something is going on. A child’s credit is a blank slate that has not yet been used. They would only start getting credit card offers if their credit bureau account was active. Freeze child's credit if you notice any suspicious activity.
  2. Mortgage Refinancing or Insurance Flyers - If you receive something in the mail referencing your child’s mortgage and refinancing or offering them insurance, this is another serious warning sign. Someone may be using their identity and has even purchased a house in their name using their social security number. 
  3. Denied Credit - When your child goes to apply for financing for school, if they are denied due to a poor credit score, someone has probably stolen their SSN and has been using it. Their spoiled credit may take a while to repair. 
  4. Collection Calls - Is your child getting collection calls for unpaid debts? It may not just be a mistake; someone could have charged a fortune in your child’s name and then skipped out on the bills. 
  5. Grocery Store Coupons - If your child receives local offers from businesses or grocery store coupons like an adult, take notice. Your child would have no credit; therefore, no company would be marketing to them unless someone has been using their SSN.
  6. IRS Tax Notice - The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) sends you a notice claiming your child failed to file taxes or that someone else filed in their name. That is another huge indicator that someone has compromised your child’s identity and has stolen their SSN
  7. Existing Accounts - If you go to set up new accounts in your child’s name (for example a new bank account) and the operator tells you they already have an account under that SSN, someone has probably stolen your child’s identity, and you must take action quickly.

child social security number being used

Tips to Keep Your Children’s Social Security Number Safe

It is much easier to prevent child identity theft rather than pick up the pieces after it has happened. To give your child the best possible future and to protect their identity while they are young, use these tips:

Keep your child’s birth certificate and social security card along with other private documents in a locked box or safe deposit box at the bank until you need them.

  • Never carry your or your child’s SSN card around in case your wallet or purse is lost or stolen. 
  • Shred any documents that contain your child’s social security number.
  • Opt-out of being included in school rosters and lists to keep your child’s information private.
  • Contact the three big credit reporting agencies (Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian) to put a credit freeze on your child’s credit file until they reach adulthood. That way, no one can open up new accounts using their SSN without your knowledge. 
  • Never share your child’s SSN with anyone unless absolutely necessary. Some places like medical facilities may ask for it, but you can refuse to provide it. 
  • Review privacy policies for anyone who does collect your child’s information. Find out how long they will keep it, how it will be stored, and how they protect this information from data breaches and identity theft.
  • Get a copy of your child’s credit report every 12 months from each of the bureaus. You can do so at annualcreditreport.com.
  • Sign up for an IP PIN with the IRS so that no one can file bogus tax returns in your child’s name. 
  • Educate your kids on the dangers of sharing your child's personal information with anyone outside the home.

If your child is the victim of identity theft, contact the FTC to report the abuse and the credit bureaus to put a fraud alert on your child's account.


About the Author
IDStrong Logo

Related Articles

What is Mail Theft and How to Prevent It in 3 Simple Steps

One of the many ways that identity thieves get their hands on your personal information is through ... Read More

Credit Card Fraud: What Is It and How To Protect Yourself Against It

Credit card fraud is a fact of life, and most Americans have experienced it or know someone who ha ... Read More

Lost or Stolen Phone? Don’t Panic, Follow These Steps

Most of us are tethered to our smartphones like a lifeline. In these tiny little computers, we car ... Read More

Stolen or Lost Wallet: What to Do?

Anyone who has ever lost their wallet or purse, or had it stolen, knows that instant spark of pani ... Read More

7 Most Common Types of Identity Theft That Can Happen to You

Identity theft is a major concern for many Americans these days with data breaches, ransomware att ... Read More

Latest Articles

Pennsylvania Maternal & Family Health Services Announces Ransomware Attack

Pennsylvania Maternal & Family Health Services Announces Ransomware Attack

Anyone paying even little attention to cybersecurity knows that medical practices and services are some of the most targeted institutions in the world.

Weekly Cybersecurity Recap January 27

Weekly Cybersecurity Recap January 27

This week, our lineup is pretty hard-hitting. Some of the biggest names in, well, everything, have been hacked, with a combined victim total of well into the millions.

MailChimp Announces Data Breach Affecting Tiny Number of Customers – With Big Ripples

MailChimp Announces Data Breach Affecting Tiny Number of Customers – With Big Ripples

MailChimp has been hacked repeatedly over the years; there is very little surprise in the breach, though one thing should be considered.

Featured Articles

How to Buy a House with Bad Credit

How to Buy a House with Bad Credit

Buying your own home is the American Dream, but it might seem out of reach to those with bad credit. However, the good news is, if your credit is less than perfect, you do still have options and in most cases, can still buy a home.

How Secure Is Your Password? Tips to Improve Your Password Security

How Secure Is Your Password? Tips to Improve Your Password Security

Any good IT article on computers and network security will address the importance of strong, secure passwords. However, the challenge of good passwords is that most people have a hard time remembering them, so they use simple or obvious ones that pose a security risk.

Top 10 Senior Scams and How to Prevent Them

Top 10 Senior Scams and How to Prevent Them

Senior scams are becoming a major epidemic for two reasons. First, seniors often have a lot of money in the bank from a life of working hard and saving.

Free Identity Threat Scan
Instantly Check if Your Personal Information is Exposed
All fields below are required
Please enter first name
Please enter last name
Please enter a city
Please select a state
Please enter an email address
Close