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What should I know about child identity theft?

Identity thieves love to go after children and steal their identities because the theft usually goes undetected for years. In fact, all a thief requires to create a fraudulent credit card is the Social Security number of a child. They don't even require the name that is attached to the Social Security number, as they can use a different name and address from the actual child.

Usually, children and/or their parents do not discover that the identity theft has taken place until many years later, when the now-adult child attempts to qualify for a student loan or take out a credit card in his or her name. When the child is denied the loan or credit card because his or her credit is marred by the effects of identity theft, which usually involves large unpaid debts with lots of associated interest, this is usually when the debt is discovered. That is when the difficult process of sorting out the debt begins.

Parents should also be on alert if their children suddenly receive a pre-approved credit card in the mail. Also, they should watch out for mail that would normally be sent to an adult but for some reason has arrived in the child's name.

A bankruptcy attorney who also handles the resolution of debts may be able to help New Jersey residents sort out their children's fraudulent debts in the event that identity fraud is discovered. However, the earlier the fraud is detected the better, and this is where regularly checking the credit report of a child can be very helpful.

Source: TransUnion, "Child Identity Theft," accessed April 22, 2016

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