Private information of children in the foster care system is highly vulnerable because it’s often exchanged between various parties. This is why adopted children are at high risk of child identity theft and Social Security fraud.
Despite parents’ efforts to protect their children, many fall victim to fraud each year. If this is the case with your child, you probably want to know How to report Social Security fraud for adopted children.
To help you go through this stressful process as efficiently as possible, this guide will show you where to turn for help. You’ll also learn how to fortify the security of your child’s information through ID theft protection services.
Why Foster Children Fall Victim to Fraud
Foster children are sometimes eligible for Social Security benefits, especially if they’re disabled. Around 5% of children are in this situation, and they’re among the most vulnerable groups fraudsters target.
Social Security fraud involving foster children can take numerous forms, but two are particularly noteworthy:
- Abusing the role of a representative payee to steal the child’s funds
- Filing claims using the child’s stolen Social Security number (SSN)
The second scenario is especially dangerous because minors’ identities often aren’t monitored. This means that someone who obtains the child’s SSN can commit various crimes besides Social Security fraud, such as the following:
- Illegally receiving unemployment benefits
- Filing tax returns to steal reimbursements
- Obtaining fraudulent loans in the child’s name
The main reason all of the above crimes happen is that foster children can’t safeguard their personally identifiable information (PII). If the child has been in and out of the system many times, their PII has changed many hands, which increases the risk of identity theft.
Where and How To Report Social Security Fraud
If you suspect your adopted child is a fraud victim—or has already suffered the consequences of this crime—you should reach out to the Social Security Administration (SSA) as soon as possible. The SSA’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG) handles fraud cases, and you can submit a report online.
You can also call OIG at 1-800-269-0271 if you need more immediate assistance or mail your report to Social Security Fraud Hotline, P.O. Box 17785, Baltimore, MD 21235-7785. These options may be more suitable if you’re reporting fraud anonymously in case it doesn’t involve you or your child directly.
Whichever way you report fraud, you’ll need to provide the child’s details alongside your own. In the case of adopted children, it’s particularly important to show proof of custody over the child.
The SSA also advises to be as detailed as possible when describing the fraud. If you know who the perpetrator is, provide all the information that could help the relevant authorities track them.
What About Identity Theft?
If the fraud aimed at your child goes beyond Social Security matters and involves identity theft, you’ll need to contact the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Some of the signs your child’s identity has been compromised include the following:
- Your child has a credit profile without a legitimate credit history
- They receive notices from the IRS in their name
- They get unexpected bills
You can report fraudulent activity online through the FTC’s dedicated ID theft portal. Note that this is different from FTC’s fraud reporting channel, which doesn’t resolve individual reports. If you need assistance, make sure to file the report to the right platform.
The next steps will vary depending on the specifics of the crime, but the FTC will give you an action plan you can follow. They also let you open an account with them so that they can support you along the way.
How To Prevent Fraud in the Future
Remediating Social Security fraud is complicated and stressful, so you should take the right steps toward ensuring it doesn’t happen again, most notably:
- Change your child’s SSN after adoption
- Consider identity monitoring services
Apply for a New SSN for Your Child
The SSA is aware of the many dangers foster children are exposed to when it comes to fraud, so it lets you get a new SSN for your child once the adoption process is over. If you still haven’t done this, it’s certainly a wise move because it can wipe the slate clean and counter the issue of the child’s original SSN having been exchanged many times in the past.
To obtain a new SSN for your child, you need to find a local SSA office and schedule an in-person meeting. You can use this locator if you’re not sure where the nearest office is.
You’ll also need to gather the necessary documents, including the following:
- Proof of identity (yours and the child’s)
- The child’s birth certificate
- Adoption paperwork
The SSA will ask you to fill out the SS-5 form, which is the same one used for obtaining the original SSN. If all goes well, you should receive the new number and SSN card six to twelve weeks after the application.
Use a Monitoring Service To Protect the Child’s Information
As mentioned, Social Security fraud is only one of the many ways someone can abuse your child’s private information. One in 50 U.S. children falls victim to identity theft annually, which speaks volumes about the importance of keeping your child’s PII out of harm’s way.
Doing this independently can be quite overwhelming because there’s a lot of ground to cover. You’d need to regularly check for signs of identity theft to ensure you don’t miss any red flags, which involves many time-consuming tasks, such as:
- Contacting credit bureaus to ensure someone hasn’t created a credit profile and obtained loans using the child’s information
- Checking for tax fraud by reaching out to the IRS
- Continuous monitoring of the documents containing your child’s PII
Most parents are far too busy to take on such responsibilities, so seeking expert help can be a good idea. Identity protection services give you peace of mind by ensuring your child’s information is monitored ongoingly using various advanced tools and techniques.
If this sounds appealing, check out FreeKick—a comprehensive solution created by Austin Capital Bank.
FreeKick—Credit Profile Building and Monitoring Paired With Identity Protection
FreeKick is a revolutionary product that helps you secure your child’s identity and invest in their future. It combines a Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation-insured (FDIC-insured) deposit account with two sets of services:
- Robust identity monitoring
- Effortless credit profile building and ongoing monitoring
ID Monitoring for Children Ages 0 to 25 (Coming Soon)
FreeKick significantly reduces the risk of your child’s information falling into the wrong hands. It does this through an array of services providing extensive protection. The following table breaks down each service and what it includes:
|Service||What Is Included|
|Social Security Number Tracing||• True-name and synthetic identity theft detection|
• Monitoring of all names, addresses, and aliases connected to the child’s SSN
• A mapped view of all locations associated with the SSN
|CyberAgent Dark Web monitoring||• Tracking of all internet traffic related to the potential trading of your child’s personal information|
|Neighborhood sex offender monitoring||• Identification and tracking of registered sex offenders living in your area|
• Alerts with reports if an offender registers under a different name using your address
|Full-service ID restoration||• Professional assistance from a restoration specialist working on the child’s behalf to restore their identity in case of theft|
• $1 million ID theft insurance covering ancillary restoration services
Young adults (ages 18 to 25) get additional protection through the following services:
|Service||How It Works|
|Lost wallet protection||Secures Social Security cards and other important documents|
|Payday loan monitoring||Alerts you if your child’s information was used to obtain payday loans|
|Court records monitoring||Searches criminal and court records for signs of identity misuse|
|Change of address monitoring||Tracks and reports any instances of the child’s mail being redirected through the USPS|
Credit Profile Building and Monitoring
Every child deserves a financially stable future, and FreeKick helps them secure it through parent-sponsored credit building. If you want to establish and improve your child’s credit profile to make it easier for them to obtain loans, buy a home, and go through important milestones more smoothly, all it takes is three steps:
- Create a FreeKick Account—Go to FreeKick.bank and place a one-time FDIC-insured deposit to get started
- Set It and Forget It—FreeKick builds 12 months of credit history for your child through a no-interest loan paid from the deposit. No ongoing action is needed on your part, as everything happens on autopilot
- Keep Growing—When the 12-month term ends, you can renew the account to keep improving your child’s credit or close it and get 100% of your deposit back to the account it came from
Your child’s credit history will be reported to the three major consumer credit bureaus if they’re a legal adult. Minors have to activate reporting upon reaching legal age, as credit bureaus don’t allow credit reporting for underage children. Either way, your child can enter adulthood with up to 48 months of credit history, which can save them over $200,000 throughout life.
Get Started With FreeKick
Unlike most comparable services, FreeKick doesn’t require monthly subscriptions. Based on your deposit amount, you can choose between a free plan and two options with low annual fees:
- 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
You can close your account at any point, and your deposit will be returned. Note that if you do it while the child is still a minor, no credit can be reported on their behalf, and all protection measures will immediately cease.
Fortify your child’s ID security and give them a significant credit advantage—sign up for FreeKick.