Dad and son on the couch looking at son's phone while talking about child identity protection and safety

Child identity theft 101: Ways to keep your family safe

As parents, we do a lot to protect our kids. We tell them not to trust strangers, don’t text while driving, avoid sketchy neighborhoods, and more. Here’s something to bump to the top of your list: Protecting your child’s identity. 

Javelin Strategy’s 2021 Child Identity Fraud study found that one in 50 children were victims of identity theft last year. We’re here to help your family avoid that situation. Let’s start with the basics, like what child identity theft is.

What is child identity theft

In short, child identity theft happens when someone uses personally identifiable information like your child’s social security, full name, address, or date of birth to commit fraud. 

A scammer could open a bank account, get a job, file a tax return, and even buy a home. Basically, make a life for themselves off your child’s squeaky clean credit history. A child’s credit history can go unchecked for years, until one day, they apply for their first credit card or student loans — and boom, they’re presented with a damaged credit score. 

A damaged credit score would make life difficult for your child — and your family. According to Javelin Strategy, losses from child identity theft averaged $752 per family or $688 million overall. The good news: That’s down from $918 million the previous year, thanks to growing awareness. Let’s continue that trend, with seven ways to protect your family against child identity theft.

How to prevent child identity theft

There’s a lot you can do to prevent your child from being another identity theft case. First up: Checking to make sure it hasn’t happened already. Deep breath in and here we go.

Look for red flags 🚩

Some things are more obvious than others, like receiving utility bills addressed to your child. A message from the IRS that your child owes income taxes or similar calls can also indicate that your child’s identity has been stolen. 

Other red flags to look for:

  • Calls from collection agencies asking for your child

  • Pre-approved card offers in the mail 

  • Your child is denied government benefits

  • Age-inappropriate junk mail addressed to your child

See if your child has a credit report 🕵️

Children under the age of sixteen shouldn’t have a credit file. Put on your detective hat and check with all three major credit bureaus — Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. If they do have a credit report, someone might be stealing your child’s identity. Protect them from further harm by taking these steps:

  • Ask any companies where you child’s identity was used to close those accounts

  • Ask the three credit bureaus to remove fraudulent accounts

  • Request that each credit bureau put a security freeze on your child’s credit report

  • File an official identity theft report with the Federal Trade Commission at

  • File a report with your local police department

  • Check with the Social Security Administration to see if your child’s social has been used anywhere else

Get family identity theft protection 👍🏻

According to, 94% of families who experienced child ID theft didn’t have a family identity theft protection plan. The Greenlight debit card and app has you covered, with theft monitoring, automatic security alerts, and restoration services from Experian — for the whole family. 

Have a chat about not oversharing 💬

From messaging apps like WhatsApp to social media, kids are spending a lot of time online, and they’re not alone. Javelin Strategy found that nearly 1 million children were targeted by criminals online in the past year. Talk to your kids about what is and isn’t okay to share. Let’s look at some examples:

Real-life scenario

Safe to share or not?

New burger place just opened. Milkshakes and photos with friends?


They want to post a pic of their shiny new driver’s license on Instagram.

Not safe

Their friend asks what they’re doing for dinner. 


A cutie on TikTok wants to know their location.

Not safe

Too close for comfort: Over 70% of child identity theft victims know the person who scammed them, according to Javelin Strategy. All too often, it’s a family member.

Safeguard their device — and debit card 💳

Take online security a step further by using parental control software, which might already be included in your cell phone plan. Some services allow you to block numbers, websites, and social media apps.

Speaking of parental controls, if your child loses their Greenlight debit card, you can use the app to turn it off in an instant. And when it turns up in the sock drawer, turn it back on with the flip of a switch.

Be careful about what you share 🤫

Doctor’s offices. Summer camp. School. What do all have in common? They may request personal information like your child’s social security number, but they don’t actually need it. So leave that section blank. This will keep your child’s sensitive info from being exposed in a data breach, which occur all too often.

Back to schools: According to, there are over 5,300,000 ransomware attacks every month, with 61% of those attacks targeting schools.

Keep their info under lock and key 🔐

If you haven’t already, put your child’s birth certificate, social security card, and other important documents in a safe. Don’t have one? Many banks, credit unions, and post offices offer safety deposit boxes. 

It’s also a good idea to shred any unneeded mail that contains your child’s phone number, birthdate, passwords, or address — before throwing it away.

Unlock child safety. For infinity.

Mom and daughter chatting in living room about safety when using internet devices

Keep your kids extra safe, while powering their independence, with a Greenlight Infinity plan. From location sharing and crash detection, to SOS alerts and Spend Controls, there’s infinitely more ways to protect your children. Give them the green light to go far and stay safe — starting today. Try Greenlight Infinity, and get one month, on us.

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