Thieves can use a child’s identity for years to come, as children typically don’t try to verify or access credit.

COLUMBUS – In an effort to fight identity theft of children, Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost is advising parents to proactively freeze their child’s credit report.

Child identity theft occurs when someone fraudulently uses a child’s identity to fraudulently open accounts or receive benefits. The impostor can be a family member, friend or stranger and can use the child’s name and social security number to open new accounts for cell phones, utilities, credit cards and even mortgages.

“The age of a victim is not important to identity thieves, so parents should use all available tools to protect their children,” Yost said. “Freezing your children’s credit report is free and can provide that security to block crooks. “

The Federal Trade Commission discovered that there were more than 14,000 identity theft victims under the age of 19, according to his last report.

Thieves can use a child’s identity for years to come, as children typically don’t try to verify or access credit. As a result, child identity theft is usually not discovered until the child applies for college financial aid, a car loan, or a job.

A freeze prevents credit bureaus from disclosing information about the child, making it more difficult for an impostor to use the child’s personal information to obtain credit, loans or services. To place a child safety freeze, a parent must contact each of the credit bureaus – Equifax, Experiential and TransUnion. The parent must provide proof of authority to act on behalf of the child, such as a birth certificate and proof of identity for the child and the adult.

It is free to place or lift a safety freeze. Once in place, the freeze will remain in effect unless lifted by the parent or child after reaching the age of 16.

Victims of identity theft should contact the Ohio Attorney General’s office at 800-282-0515 or online here.