Every school year, parents are asked to fill out a lot of forms. But if your child's information falls into the wrong hands, they can be vulnerable to identity theft. Cases of child ID theft have tripled in the last decade, with one in 40 households now experiencing it. The problem is it's often not detected until years later.
The carefree days of childhood aren't supposed to include charging up credit cards or calls from bill collectors. But if your child's Social Security number or birth date falls into the wrong hands that can happen.
"Anytime your child is getting pre-approved credit offers in the mail or bill collectors are calling or they say your child has a job and your child has never worked; those are indications that you want to take action and see if your child has a credit report in their name," Marley Prunty-Lara of Consumer Credit Counseling said.
Kids shouldn't have a credit report at all. There are all kinds of ways your child's identity can be compromised; from parents giving personal information to a third party that then falls into the wrong hands to kids posting too much information on social media. And while the government protects school records, schools across the country have experienced data breaches.
"We often don't detect it until our children are much older and they're seeking a job or they're going to get that first car loan, or apply for student loans in college," Prunty-Lara said.
Consumer Credit Counseling says parents of teenagers should check to make sure their child doesn't have a credit report.
"About age 14 to 16 is when you can start checking for them on their behalf before they go out into the world and find out they can't get that student loan. 'Gosh, my credit has already been ruined,'" Prunty-Lara said.