ITRC Fact Sheet 120B
Child Identity Theft Indicators:  A Guide for Parents

This guide includes:

Child identity theft occurs when a child’s identity is used by another person for personal gain. The perpetrator may be a family member or a person known by the family. This person could also be a stranger who purposely targets children. This crime is attractive because it often goes undetected until the child reaches legal age.

Some cases that appear to be identity theft are not. Receiving a pre-approved credit card offer in your child’s name might be a red flag. However, this could also be just an innocent marketing tool sent because you opened a college fund for your child. Sometimes banks put all customers on marketing lists despite their age. We recommend that you opt out of all marketing lists with the bank when you open an account. This will reduce the number of pre-approved credit card offers.

It is vitally important that you create a safe environment and a sense of open dialogue should a child see a credit card or bill at someone else’s home in his/her name - especially at an ex-spouse’s home. We must talk about identity theft with our younger and older teens, leaving a door open for them to ask questions or express concerns if they arise.
NOTE: ITRC does not recommend that you automatically check your child’s credit report annually UNLESS you have an indication of a problem. A child should not have a report unless someone has started to apply for credit using that child’s SSN. To order reports unnecessarily actually confuses the computerized systems of the reporting agencies and opens a door to thieves because it may establish a credit report.


Be aware that consumers cannot prevent most cases of identity theft. However, there are steps you can take that limit the opportunities a thief has to take advantage of you.

Parents and guardians are often asked to show a copy of a birth certificate and/or a Social Security card in order for their children to participate in after school sports. Coaches may ask for photocopies of these papers. ITRC does not believe that this is a wise business practice. A more secure information handling practice should become policy. We recommend the following in regards to your child’s sensitive information:




We recommend that you follow the directions listed in ITRC Fact Sheet FS 120A – To Order a Child’s Credit Report.

Please note: Utility companies and credit card companies are not obligated to notify the three credit reporting agencies when an account is opened. Some wait until bills are not being paid or it goes to collection. The lack of information in a credit report at one moment in time does not permanently confirm that no activity is going on.

Related Links:

ITRC Solution SN 19 – File Sharing and Peer-to-Peer Software Safety

ITRC Solution SN 20 – Internet Account Takeover: Email Accounts and Social Networking Sites

ITRC Letter Form LF 120 - Requesting a Child's Credit Report


This fact sheet should not be used in lieu of legal advice. Any requests to reproduce this material, other than by individual victims for their own use, should be directed to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..