Has your Child been the Victim of Identity Theft?

by in Tax Issues

Recently, I was told the most shocking story by a mother.

She went to open a bank account for her children, ages 10 – 13. The account manager ran their Social Security numbers and told her there was a problem. Someone else was using her 10 year-old daughter’s Social Security number!

After some extensive investigation, and with the help of the police department, Mom learned that not only was one person using that SSN – there were 23 people using it.

We did some backtracking and digging, trying to reconstruct how this could have happened. Here’s the story.

Daughter was born in December 2001. By August of 2002, people were already using the number. Less than a year after the baby was born. Mom explained that Baby was very fragile – that, initially, they were not even sure she would survive.

So, the first thought was that someone was getting hold of SSNs of babies who had died. But, no, that can’t be it. The hospital held her Social Security application until they were sure the baby would live. Then they sent it in.

Who knows. Perhaps someone at that hospital (and other hospitals) is selling off babies’ SSNs, knowing that number won’t be used for about 10 years.

Why am I telling you this? It’s quite possible that if your child was born within the last decade, this may have happened to you.

How can you find out?

Do one, or all, of these things:

1)    Open a bank account and have the accounts manager run the SSN to make sure no problems or alerts show up.

2)    Run a credit check on your child’s SSN to see if any activity shows up. If your child hasn’t established credit yet, there should be none.

3)    File a Form 4506-T with the IRS listing the last 4 years (2011, 2010, 2009, 2008) and check all the boxes. It’s free and takes only about two weeks to get the information. This will tell you if any W-2s or anything show up that you don’t recognize. (In case your child IS already working, there may be some there appropriately.)

I hope you find nothing. But if you do, it’s time to start resolving the issues immediately, before it adversely affects your child’s college, credit, taxes, and adult life.

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About the Author - Eva Rosenberg

Eva Rosenberg, EA, founder of the popular tax advice site, TaxMama.com, is a nationally syndicated Dow Jones columnist at MarketWatch.com, an author and popular speaker and instructor. Please join the TaxMama family and get answers to your own tax questions.


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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Loretta Oliver October 5, 2012 at 11:19 am

Whoa! Stealing from babies that haven’t even left the hospital yet, that’s just disgusting.

I keep an eye on my information and my husband’s information because I had an identity theft situation a number of years ago. I honestly hadn’t even thought about checking the kid’s numbers on a regular basis because they don’t really use them yet, I don’t even like to give their numbers when they ask for them on medical records – I always tell them to use our phone number or some other number for their filing systems.

My youngest two don’t have any accounts anywhere yet, so this is absolutely going on my to-do list for October! I’ll check all four of my boys’ numbers and maybe set up one of those alert services for them so I don’t forget to monitor them.


Lisa Marie Mary October 5, 2012 at 12:05 pm

Oh my gosh, that is absolutely crazy! I never thought that identity theft would happen to kids – wow! And ugh!


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