Realizing that someone has gotten ahold of your child’s SSN is terrifying, as the crime most likely won’t end there. The perpetrator can use it to defraud financial and government institutions, tying your child’s identity to various scams.
It’s crucial to react immediately after noticing the theft, and this guide will show you what to do if your child’s SSN is stolen. You’ll also learn how to safeguard your child’s identity in the future and why investing in professional protection might be a good idea.
Why Fraudsters Steal Children’s SSNs
Many institutions—from banks to healthcare providers—have your SSN in their databases. This isn’t the case with minors’ numbers, which remain largely unused until they reach adulthood. If someone steals a minor’s SSN, they get a blank slate they can use for many purposes, most notably:
- Concealing their real identity and evading the law
- Misusing government benefits
- Filing different claims under the SSN
- Obtaining fraudulent loans
In many of the above cases, the fraudster uses the child’s SSN to create a so-called synthetic identity by combining the stolen number with a fake name, address, and other details.
What further enables such fraud is the fact that SSNs of children born after June 2011 are randomized, so the criminal can stay under the radar for a long time. That’s why it’s important to resolve this problem as quickly as possible.
What if a Child’s Social Security Number Is Stolen?
Whether someone has directly stolen the child’s Social Security card or otherwise obtained the number, take the following steps immediately:
Where and How To Report SSN Theft
There are several institutions to which you should report a stolen SSN:
|Institution||How To Report Theft|
|Local authorities||Call 911 and file a report with your local law enforcement agency|
|Federal Trade Commission (FTC)||Submit a report online using FTC’s dedicated identity theft portal|
|Social Security Administration (SSA)||If the fraud has already been committed using a child’s SSN, report it to the SSA’s Office of Inspector General by filling out the online form|
Contacting your local authorities is typically the first step because other institutions might require a police report. With all the reports you file, try to provide as many details as possible, and be ready to gather various documentation, most notably:
- Primary and/or secondary identification documents
- Proof of custody (particularly important for foster children)
- The child’s Social Security card if the SSN theft didn’t involve it
When you report the theft to the FTC, you’ll get a recovery plan outlining the steps you should take to minimize the damage to your child’s identity. Make sure to follow the provided guidelines to prevent the issue from escalating.
How To Put a Fraud Alert on a Kid’s Social Security Number
A fraud alert isn’t placed directly on the child’s SSN but on the credit profile connected to it. This is done because many thefts are financially motivated, and an alert can prevent unauthorized loans.
Most children don’t have a credit profile by default, but the fraudster can create one after stealing the number to scam a lender. When you place a fraud alert, lenders take extra steps to verify a credit applicant’s identity before opening a new account.
You might also want to freeze the child’s credit profile to make it completely inaccessible to new lenders. To place a credit freeze, you need to contact all three major consumer credit bureaus:
A fraud alert lasts for a year unless you extend it, while a credit freeze is active indefinitely until you remove it. Note that your child can’t make legitimate credit inquiries while their credit profile is frozen, so make sure to unfreeze it when the time comes for them to obtain loans or credit cards.
Determine Whether You Can Change the SSN
The SSA sometimes allows SSN changes, but they’re reserved for the most extreme cases of fraud. You most likely won’t be able to change the child’s number only because it’s stolen—you need to prove that they’re suffering ongoing harm due to identity theft.
If this is the case, contact your local SSA office and explain the situation. They’ll likely ask for a police report and proof that you’ve exhausted all other ID theft remediation options. If the SSA decides your child is eligible for the change, they’ll guide you through the next steps and replace it.
If your child lost their Social Security card, but there’s no evidence of theft or fraud, you can request a replacement. Note that the child’s SSN will stay the same—they’ll only get a new card. There’s still a chance of someone finding the old one, so you should stay on high alert for any signs of identity theft and do your best to prevent it.
How To Prevent the Misuse of Your Child’s SSN
If you want to make sure your child’s SSN isn’t stolen again, restrict access to it as much as possible. Teach your child to leave their Social Security card at home, as there’s hardly ever a need to carry it with them.
You and your child should also beware of other ways someone can obtain the number, most notably:
- Fraudulent forms—Most institutions don’t need a child’s SSN, so make sure to verify any requests for it before filling out forms
- Online scams—Teach your child not to reveal the SSN to anyone online, regardless of who they claim to be. Scammers often use phishing and similar strategies to manipulate children into giving them the number
- Dumpster diving—There have been cases of SSN fraud involving dumpster diving, so be careful how you handle the child’s Social Security card
Besides safeguarding the child’s sensitive information, you can have it monitored by experts to lower the risk of fraud. Austin Capital Bank launched a product that can give you and your child much-needed peace of mind—FreeKick.
FreeKick—Careful Credit Profile Building and Monitoring
FreeKick combines a Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation-insured (FDIC-insured) deposit account with credit profile monitoring and building services. As mentioned, SSN theft often involves fraudulent credit accounts, so monitoring can help ensure that someone doesn’t start a credit profile in the child’s name.
It also keeps the child’s legitimate profile clean and error-free, eliminating inconvenience caused by inaccurate or outdated information. Instead of going through complex procedures with credit bureaus, you can rest assured someone is watching over your child’s profile at all times.
SSN Tracking, Dark Web Monitoring, and More (Coming Soon)
Besides keeping track of your child’s credit profile, FreeKick monitors their sensitive information to drastically reduce the chances of theft and misuse. It tracks all names, addresses, and aliases connected to the child’s SSN, providing effective true-name and synthetic identity fraud detection.
FreeKick also uses the CyberAgent surveillance system to monitor internet traffic related to the potential trading of the child’s personal information. Considering that a child’s SSN can be readily available to fraudsters for as little as a dollar, this service helps nip identity theft in the bud.
To further reduce the potential attack surface, FreeKick offers a neighborhood sex offender monitoring service. If an offender living in your area registers under a different name using your address, you’ll get an alert with a report.
If your child is a legal adult (18 and over in most states), they’ll be covered by additional protective measures:
- Lost wallet protection
- Change of address monitoring
- Payday loan monitoring
- Court records monitoring
ID Restoration and Insurance (Coming Soon)
In case your child’s SSN is stolen again or their identity is compromised in another way, FreeKick will help by appointing a dedicated ID restoration specialist. They’ll work on your child’s behalf to investigate all alerts, dispute fraudulent activity, and restore the child’s identity to its original form.
You’ll get full support at no extra cost, as ancillary restoration services are covered by FreeKick’s $1 million ID theft insurance.
Give Your Child a Head Start With FreeKick’s Credit Building
FreeKick doesn’t only monitor your child’s credit profile—it also improves their future creditworthiness through parent-sponsored credit building. If your child is 14–25 years old, FreeKick can establish and build a credit history for them in three quick steps:
- Create an Account—Go to FreeKick.bank and choose a plan based on a one-time FDIC-insured deposit
- Set It and Forget It—Once the account is active, FreeKick will build 12 months of credit history for your child without any ongoing action needed on your part
- Keep Growing—At the end of the 12-month term, you can renew the account for another 12 months or close it and get 100% of your deposit back
FreeKick doesn’t require cumbersome monthly subscriptions—there’s a free plan and two options with low annual fees based on the deposit amount:
|FDIC-Insured Deposit Amount||Cost|
FreeKick will report the credit history of legal adults to the aforementioned credit bureaus. Your child can still build a credit history as a minor, but they need to activate reporting upon becoming a legal adult due to the credit bureaus’ requirements.
Should you decide to close the account before the 12-month term expires, you’d get your deposit back without any fees or penalties. Note that all monitoring services would immediately cease, and no credit could be reported for the account if the child was a minor at the time of closure.
Keep your child’s credit profile and sensitive information safe while investing in their financial stability—sign up for FreeKick.