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How To Protect Your Child From Identity Theft

Last month, around 100,000 tax accounts were compromised after hackers got into the IRS website. The IRS is providing free credit monitoring services to everyone affected, but what can we do to protect ourselves and our families in the future?

Have you done anything to safeguard your child against identity theft? If hackers can get to the federal government, they can get to you. They can get to your kids. As a mom, you may feel like your head is on a swivel, but you can't see everything.

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Child identity theft is particularly scary because it can go unnoticed for decades. It may not be until your child grows up and decides to apply for credit card or buy a house that he realizes somebody has been messing with his credit. But children don't have a credit report, and therefore there is nothing to monitor, right?

To help protect your child from identity theft, you should:

* Keep close tabs on all paper and electronic records that contain your child's personal information.

* Never provide your child's Social Security number to someone you don't trust and always make them explain to you why they need it.

The bottom line here is: pay attention.

According to the Federal Trade Commission's website, there are some warning signs. You should immediately jump into action if:

* Your child is turned down for government benefits because those benefits are being paid to another account.

* You get a notice from the IRS saying that your child didn't pay income taxes or that the child's Social Security number was used on another tax return.

* You get collection calls or bills for products or services you didn't receive.

If you are concerned that your child's identity might have been stolen, or if you just want to have peace of mind, start by ordering your child's credit reports. If your child has a credit report at all, that is a huge red flag, since a person who has not applied for credit should not have a credit report.

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The bottom line here is: pay attention. Pay attention to junk mail. Pay attention to correspondence from your child's doctor and school. Pay attention to any electronic correspondence pertaining to your child.

When it comes to credit and identity theft, a little bit of prevention goes a long way. Sadly, a little bit of neglect can go much, much further.

Image via Twenty20/Pei

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