Child identity theft doesn’t affect everyone equally. Special needs children are particularly vulnerable because Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) programs can be exploited by malicious parties.
If this has happened to your child, the first question you might ask is, “How do you report special needs child Social Security fraud?”
The good news is that there are several authorities you can turn to for help. This guide will outline your options and show you how to prevent fraud from having life-changing consequences. You’ll also learn about the best way to protect your child’s personal information through monitoring services.
How Does Social Security Child Benefit Fraud Occur?
Social Security fraud affecting special needs children often has the same vector as scams targeting non-special needs children—Social Security number (SSN) theft. The main difference lies in the way the perpetrator uses the number.
If the target is a child with no special needs, the SSN is commonly used to steal their identity and scam financial institutions through fraudulent loans. With special needs children, the fraudster’s goal is usually to obtain benefits offered by SSI and SSDI programs.
There are two ways such crime can happen:
- The fraudster files for unclaimed disability benefits using stolen information
- The child’s SSA-appointed payee uses the funds for their own gain
Criminals can get ahold of a child’s information in numerous ways, most notably:
- Theft of physical documents
- Medical data leaks
- Extraction of information through manipulative tactics
Depending on the specifics and consequences of the fraud, there are several ways to report and remediate it.
How To Report Child Social Security Fraud
Fraud claims are handled by the SSA, specifically the Office of the Inspector General (OIG). You can submit a report online or use the following methods if you wish to stay anonymous:
- Phone—1-800-269-0271 (TTY 1-866-501-2101)
- Mail—Social Security Fraud Hotline, P.O. Box 17785, Baltimore, MD 21235-7785
The OIG will investigate the claim and involve other prosecuting authorities as needed. Social Security fraud is a serious crime that carries penalties of up to $250,000 and imprisonment for up to five years, and the SSA takes all reports seriously.
This is especially the case if the fraud involves a person of trust (e.g., SSA employees or doctors), who may face much stricter punishments, including prison time of up to ten years.
Make sure to provide as many details as possible when submitting a report, including the following:
- When and where the fraud took place
- Details on the person(s) involved
- The motive behind the fraud (if known)
This way, the SSA can investigate the issue more efficiently and resolve the fraud before it does too much harm. They may even let you change the child’s SSN if the scam involves identity theft. In this case, you should also reach out to another authority—the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
Reporting Fraud to the FTC
If someone steals your child’s SSN, they can use it for various purposes besides disability fraud, such as credit or tax fraud. The SSA doesn’t handle such cases, so they recommend contacting the FTC.
You can report the fraud on the FTC’s website, but note that doing so won’t lead to resolution because individual cases aren’t handled through this channel. Instead, you need to submit a report using the FTC’s dedicated identity theft portal.
When you do, you’ll get a recovery plan and can create an account that the FTC will use to guide you through the remediation process.
Tips for Preventing Social Security Fraud and Identity Theft
If your child has fallen victim to fraud, you should do everything in your power to prevent it from happening again once you’ve resolved the most pressing concerns. To safeguard your child’s identity and information, follow these steps:
- Take advantage of the SSA’s security measures
- Protect your child’s medical records and other important documents
- Sign up for an identity protection service
Add SSA’s Security Blocks to the Child’s Account
The SSA offers two protection services you don’t get by default—you need to contact your local office and request them. The following table explains how each service helps:
|Service||How It Works|
|eServices block||Prevents everyone (including you and your child) from making any changes to the child’s personal information online. The block is active indefinitely until you remove it by contacting your local SSA office|
|Direct Deposit Fraud Prevention Block||Ensures nobody can change the child’s direct deposit information or enroll in direct deposits. Any future change will require the removal of the block, regardless of whether you want to make a change through the SSA or a relevant financial institution|
These services can prevent some of the main tactics fraudsters use to obtain or manipulate a child’s information. They don’t provide comprehensive protection because there are still ways for someone to steal it, so use these services in conjunction with other safety measures.
Keep Your Child’s Documents Safe
While you can’t prevent data breaches aimed at your child’s healthcare institutions, you should do your part to ensure medical records don’t fall into the wrong hands. Keep close track of providers to which you’ve given any sensitive information, and verify any request for private data.
The same goes for other documents containing your child’s personally identifiable information (PII). Keep them in a safe place at home, and make sure your child lets you know if anyone asks about their personal details.
Consider Activating an Identity Protection Service
It’s natural to feel like you can’t handle fraud prevention single-handedly—taking care of your child carries more than enough responsibilities, even without such a complex task. If you need a helping hand, identity monitoring and protection services can be a worthy investment.
These services take care of all the work you’d otherwise have to do alone, such as the following:
- Staying on high alert for signs of identity theft
- Monitoring your child’s private information
- Investigating issues and reporting them to the relevant authorities
There are various ID protection providers to explore, but many share the same issue—cumbersome monthly fees. To fix this, Austin Capital Bank created a budget-friendly solution that gives you the peace of mind you need—FreeKick.
FreeKick’s ID Theft Protection for Children and Young Adults
FreeKick is a combination of a Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation-insured (FDIC-insured) deposit account and various services aimed at:
- Safeguarding your child’s identity
- Helping them enjoy a more stable future through automated credit building
Identity Monitoring for Children Ages 0–25 (Coming Soon)
When you sign up for FreeKick, the risk of identity theft drops significantly because your child’s personal information is monitored by a team of experts. Minors (18 and under in most states) are covered by the following services:
- Social Security Number Tracing—FreeKick monitors all names, addresses, and aliases connected to your child’s SSN and provides a mapped view of all locations associated with it. By doing so, it helps detect true-name and synthetic identity fraud proactively
- Dark Web monitoring—Scammers often buy and sell PII on the Dark Web, so FreeKick uses the CyberAgent surveillance system to track internet traffic related to its potential trading
- Sex offender monitoring—Identifies and monitors sex offenders in your vicinity to alert you if an offender registers under a different name using your address
- Full-service ID restoration—If someone steals your child’s identity, you’ll receive comprehensive support from a certified restoration specialist. They will:
- Investigate alerts
- Dispute fraudulent activity
- Work on your child’s behalf to restore their identity
- ID theft insurance—FreeKick offers a $1 million insurance covering ancillary identity restoration services
If your child is a legal adult, they’ll get additional services to reduce the chances of stolen information:
- Lost wallet monitoring—Safeguards documents and offers professional support in reissuing them in case of theft, as well as a web-based interface for document management
- Change of address monitoring—Monitors any redirections of the child’s mail through the USPS
- Payday loan monitoring—Detects the misuse of a child’s SSN for obtaining payday loans
- Court records monitoring—Browses court records for unauthorized use of your child’s PII
FreeKick’s Credit Profile Building and Monitoring
Most children—particularly minors—struggle to start their credit journey due to the inaccessibility of credit products. FreeKick’s parent-sponsored credit building for children ages 14–25 is an excellent solution.
You can improve your child’s creditworthiness in three steps:
- Create an Account—Go to FreeKick.bank and choose a one-time deposit that suits your budget from the three available options:
- Free—One-time FDIC-insured deposit of $2,500
- $49/year—One-time FDIC-insured deposit of $1,750
- $99/year—One-time FDIC-insured deposit of $1,000
- Set It and Forget It—After you and your child activate the account, FreeKick builds 12 months of credit history for them without further ongoing action needed on your part
- Keep Growing—When the 12-month term expires, you can renew the account for another one (up to 48 months) to keep building the child’s credit profile effortlessly. You can also close the account and get 100% of your deposit back
If your child is:
- A legal adult—FreeKick starts reporting their credit history to the three major consumer credit bureaus within three months of opening the account
- A minor—The child’s credit history will be reported when they become a legal adult and activate reporting through a simple process
While FreeKick builds your child’s credit, it will monitor their credit profile to stay on the lookout for any signs of fraud or misuse of relevant information.
Note that monitoring is only active while your account is open. If you decide to close it, you’ll get your deposit back, but all security measures will immediately cease. Also, if your child is a minor at the time of closure, no credit history can be reported for the account, as credit bureaus don’t allow it.
Keep your child’s identity under close supervision while investing in their future—sign up for FreeKick.