(CBS News) — Between working two jobs and raising four kids, one with severe ADHD, Neala Elsworth didn’t think things could get more complicated — until her childrens’ insurance claims were unexpectedly denied.
“They told me three out of four of my kids have another insurance,” she explained.
Elsworth soon discovered someone else was using her kids’ Social Security numbers to get benefits in another state, an all too common form of child ID theft.
“The rate of child ID theft is about 50 times higher than it is for adults,” says Ken Abbe of the Federal Trade Commission.
Abbe cites a Carnegie Mellon report that found one out of 10 children studied had someone else using their Social Security number. It’s something parents don’t often discover until their kids get credit card applications, collection notices, letters from the IRS or, worse, when they’re denied a student loan.
“Parents should check every three to four years to see if their child has a credit report, but especially check when the child turns 16,” Abbe recommends.
He explains that should provide plenty of time to clean up compromised credit before they turn 18. Until then, kids shouldn’t have a credit report at all.
To check, you can submit a request in writing to all three credit bureaus.