How to Lock Your Child’s Social Security Number
Did you know one in four children will be a victim of identity theft before they turn 18? That’s a scary thought, especially when you consider how much damage identity theft can do to your child’s future. Identity thieves can use your child’s Social Security number (SSN) to open credit accounts, apply for government benefits, get a job, and more. This can ruin your child’s credit history and reputation and cause you a lot of stress and hassle.
Fortunately, there is a way to protect your child from identity theft: locking their SSN. In this article, we will explain what a SSN lock is, how it works, why you should do it, what the risks and alternatives are, and how to detect and prevent child identity theft. By the end of this article, you will know how to lock your child’s Social Security number and keep them safe from identity thieves.
What is a Social Security Number Lock and How Does It Work?
A SSN lock is a feature that allows you to block anyone, including yourself, from changing or accessing your child’s Social Security record online or by phone. This means no one can use your child’s SSN for any purpose without your permission. A SSN lock is different from a credit freeze or fraud alert, which only affect your child’s credit reports, not their Social Security record.
To request a SSN lock for your child, you must create an account on the [Social Security Administration] (SSA) website or the E-Verify] website. E-Verify is a service that verifies the employment eligibility of workers in the US. Both websites allow you to lock and unlock your child’s SSN at any time provided you have the PIN or password you created when you requested the lock. You can also unlock your child’s SSN by contacting the SSA or E-Verify by phone or mail.
Why Should You Lock Your Child’s Social Security Number?
Benefits of Locking Your Child’s Social Security Number
Protecting your child from identity theft and fraud
Identity thieves will not be able to use your child’s SSN to open new accounts, apply for benefits, get a job, or do anything else that requires a SSN verification.
Preventing unauthorized use of your child’s SSN.
Sometimes, people may use your child’s SSN by mistake or without your knowledge, such as relatives, friends, or employers. This can cause problems for your child later on, such as tax issues, credit errors, or legal disputes.
Preserving your child’s credit history and reputation.
By locking your child’s SSN, you can ensure their credit reports will be clean and accurate when they grow up and need them for important purposes such as getting a loan, renting an apartment, or buying a car.
Locking your child’s SSN can save you and your child a lot of time, money, and hassle in the long run. For example, if your child’s identity is stolen, you may have to spend hours on the phone with creditors, banks, government agencies, and other entities to dispute the fraudulent charges or claims. You may also have to pay fees or fines to clear your child’s name and restore their credit. Moreover, you may have to deal with the emotional impact of having your child’s identity violated and their future jeopardized.
What are the Risks of Locking Your Child’s Social Security Number?
Locking your child’s SSN is not without risks or challenges. Some of the potential drawbacks or difficulties of locking your child’s SSN are listed below.
Keep a record of your PIN or password in a safe place.
You can write it down on a piece of paper and store it in a secure location, such as a safe or locked drawer. You can also use a password manager app or software to store and manage your passwords securely.
Contact the SSA or E-Verify to remove the lock when necessary
If you need to access or update your child’s Social Security record, or if you want to remove the lock permanently, you can contact the SSA or E-Verify by phone or mail to request unlocking your child’s SSN. You will have to provide some information to verify your identity and relationship to your child.
Possibility of forgetting or losing the PIN or password to unlock your child’s SSN
If you forget or lose the PIN or password you created when you requested the lock, you will not be able to unlock your child’s SSN online or by phone. You will have to contact the SSA or E-Verify by mail and provide proof of identity and relationship to unlock your child’s SSN.
Monitor your child’s mail and other personal information for signs of identity theft
Even if you lock your child’s SSN, you should still keep an eye on their mail and other sources of personal information, such as their school records, medical records, or online accounts. If you notice anything suspicious or unusual, such as bills, collections calls, or tax notices in your child’s name, quickly report the possible identity theft.
Inconvenience or difficulty in accessing or updating your child’s Social Security record when needed
For example, if you need to change your child’s name or address on their Social Security card, or if you need to apply for benefits or services that require a SSN verification, you will have to unlock your child’s SSN first. This may take some time and effort on your part.
Limitation of the lock to only block electronic access, not physical access or mail correspondence
A SSN lock only prevents a person from changing or accessing your child’s Social Security record online or by phone. It does not stop anyone from accessing or using your child’s SSN in other ways, such as stealing their mail, documents, or devices that contain their personal information.
The following tips will help you overcome or minimize these risks.
What are the Alternatives to Locking Your Child’s Social Security Number?
Educating your child about online safety and privacy
You should teach your child how to protect their personal information online, such as by using strong passwords, avoiding phishing emails, and being careful what they share on social media. You should also monitor your child’s online activity and limit their access to websites or apps that may collect or expose their personal information.
Placing a credit freeze or a fraud alert on your child’s credit reports
A credit freeze prevents anyone from opening new credit accounts in your child’s name, while a fraud alert notifies you if someone tries to use your child’s credit information. You can request a credit freeze or a fraud alert for your child through the three major credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.
Checking your child’s credit reports annually for free
You can get a free copy of your child’s credit report from each of the three credit bureaus once a year through [AnnualCreditReport.com]. You should review the credit report for any errors or unauthorized accounts, and dispute any you find.
Each of these alternatives has its own pros and cons, and you may choose to use one or more of them depending on your situation. For example, a credit freeze may offer more protection than a fraud alert, but it may also be more inconvenient to lift or remove. A credit report check may help you detect identity theft, but it may not prevent it from happening. Online education may empower your child to be more aware and responsible, but it may not be enough to stop sophisticated hackers or scammers.
You should weigh the benefits and risks of each alternative, and decide which one is best for you and your child. You can also combine different alternatives to create a more comprehensive protection plan for your child.
protect your child
How to Detect and Report Child Identity Theft
Even if you lock your child’s SSN or take other preventive measures, you should still be vigilant and watchful for any signs that indicate that your child’s identity has been compromised. Here are some of the warning signs.
These may indicate someone has opened credit accounts, applied for benefits, or filed taxes using your child’s SSN.
This may indicate that someone has already claimed the benefits or loans for which you or your child are eligible using your child’s SSN.
These may indicate someone has used your child’s SSN to obtain credit cards, loans, or other financial products.
You should call the creditors, banks, government agencies, or other entities that are associated with the fraudulent activity and inform them your child’s identity has been stolen. You should ask them to close the accounts, reverse the charges, or cancel the claims that are not yours or your child’s.
You can file a report online at [IdentityTheft.gov] or by phone at 1-877-ID-THEFT (1-877-438-4338). The FTC will provide you with an Identity Theft Report, which is a document that proves your child’s identity has been stolen and helps you recover from the identity theft.
You should also file a police report and request a copy of it. You should go to your local police station to report your child’s identity has been stolen. You should bring your child’s birth certificate, Social Security card, and any other documents that prove your identity and relationship to your child. You should also bring the Identity Theft Report from the FTC and any evidence of the fraudulent activity, such as bills, statements, or letters. Having a copy of the police report will help you with the recovery process.
How to Prevent Child Identity Theft
Prevention is better than a cure, and there are many ways to prevent your child’s identity from being stolen in the first place. Here are some tips on how to protect your child’s SSN and personal information:
Protect your documents and devices that contain your child’s personal information
You should keep your child’s birth certificate, Social Security card, and other important documents in a safe place such as a safe or a locked drawer. You should also shred or delete any unwanted or outdated information that has your child’s SSN on it, such as forms, receipts, or statements. You should also secure your devices that have your child’s personal information on them such as your computer, phone, or tablet. You should use passwords, encryption, antivirus software, and firewalls to protect your devices from hackers or thieves.
Monitor your child’s mail and other personal information for signs of identity theft.
You should check your child’s mail regularly and look for any suspicious or unusual items, such as bills, collections calls, or tax notices in your child’s name. You should also monitor your child’s school records, medical records, and online accounts for any changes or errors that may indicate identity theft. If you notice anything wrong or out of place, quickly report it.
Ask questions before giving out your child’s SSN to anyone who requests it.
You should find out why they need your child’s SSN, how they will use it, how long they will keep it, and how they will dispose of it. You should also ask if there are any alternatives to providing your child’s SSN, such as another form of identification or a unique identifier.
Be careful about sharing your child’s SSN, especially online or over the phone
You should only give out your child’s SSN when it is absolutely necessary, such as for school enrollment, medical care, or government services. You should also verify the identity and legitimacy of the person or organization that is requesting your child’s SSN, and ask them how they will use, store, and protect it.
How to Hire Legal Experts to Fight Against Child Identity Theft
If you discover your child’s identity has been stolen, you may need legal assistance to recover from the identity theft and protect your child’s rights. A child identity theft attorney can help you with various tasks, such as:
Suing the identity thief or the companies that allowed the identity theft to happen
Seeking compensation for any damages or losses caused by the identity theft
Contacting the credit bureaus and requesting a credit freeze or a fraud alert for your child
Disputing any fraudulent accounts or charges on your child’s credit reports
Filing a police report and an identity theft report with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC)
However, finding a qualified and experienced child identity theft attorney can be challenging; not all lawyers are familiar with this specific area of law. That’s why you should use [Legal Yogi], a service that connects you with the best child identity theft attorneys in your area.
Legal Yogi is a free and easy way to find a lawyer who can help you with your child identity theft case. All you need to do is fill out a simple online form with some basic information about your situation, and Legal Yogi will match you with up to four local attorneys who specialize in child identity theft. You can then compare their profiles, reviews, fees, and availability, and choose the one that suits your needs and budget.
Legal Yogi is not a law firm or a lawyer referral service. It is an independent platform that helps you find the right lawyer for your case. Legal Yogi does not charge you any fees or commissions for using its service. You only pay the lawyer you hire for their legal services.