Although childhood isn’t always a time associated with innocence, how many children and teens know to get a background or credit check in their youth? Someone stealing your identity isn’t on the minds of children and teens, but, as recent identity theft cases indicate, identity theft for children has increased and teens transitioning into adults usually don’t find out about it until a background check comes back with the results.
Unlike adult cases, however, children having their identity stolen know the criminal, who is often a parent or other relative. Five percent of identity theft victims are now children and, in most cases, an adult with poor credit uses their child’s name to take out a loan, open a credit card, or to start a new gas or electric account. Responsible parents and adults will make sure that the balance is paid back and, once his or her credit is in better shape, close the child’s account. Parents who are being negligent, engaging in behavior that shot their credit score in the first place, end up leaving the child with thousands of dollars in debt and unpaid bills.
The child, now grown into a young adult, isn’t aware, until he or she needs to have a background check done for a loan, car, credit card, apartment, or job. The thousands of dollars in debt and bills often block this person from obtaining any of these necessities.
And, adults should be more mindful about doing this to their children. An article in the Washington Post explains that credit checks are on the rise in employment, although their actual rate of increase is vague. Credit may play a role in obtaining stable employment in the future, and parents or relatives should consider the financial ramifications of taking their child’s identity, even if it’s only for a brief time, for bills, loans, and credit cards.