David Horowitz is a leading
consumer advocate. David’s
daughter Amanda Horowitz
is the CEO of Fight Back! and
co-founder of FightBack.com.
Questions and answers of the
greatest interest to Costco
members will be used in this
column (with the permission
of the contributor) and will be
posted on FightBack.com.
FIGHT BACK! GETS SOCIAL
What do you do to be a proactive consumer and effect
positive change in the world?
Send us your photos, videos
and comments on Facebook,
Instagram and Twitter, marked
MORE IN ARCHIVES
search “Consumer Connection. ”
Please note we are not licensed
professionals in any field. If you are
seeking advice you should consult
with your own licensed professional.
We do not assume any liability or
responsibility for the interpretation,
application or accuracy of any information provided.
ADULTS ARE NOT the only targets of identity the;;
children can be victims of identity thieves too. ;is
is because the crime may go undetected for years,
until victims try to use their own information to
build credit and discover someone else has used it
fraudulently. ;e perpetrator using a child’s Social
Security number, date of birth, name, address or all
• Keep documents and vital records in a safe
place where you know with certainty that the infor-
mation will not be compromised. Don’t keep them
anywhere they can be lost or stolen.
• Cross-cut shred all documents before throwing them away. You should do this for all personal
information, as a general rule.
• Find out who has access to your child’s personal information at school. Verify how records are
kept and what the school does to protect information. You also need to understand the Family
Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), which
protects the privacy of student education records.
Under FERPA, parents have the right to inspect and
review their child’s education records and to approve
of disclosure of personal information. Go to
and search “FERPA” for more information.
• When ;lling out paperwork, ask if a Social
Security number is absolutely necessary. If it’s possible to use a di;erent identi;er or the last four digits of your child’s Social Security number only, do so.
If identity theft occurs
If you are sure your minor child has been the victim of financial identity theft, in general, the first step
is to file a police report and provide any evidence you
have to the authorities. Using a copy of this report, you
then submit a written request for a credit report from
the three major credit reporting agencies: Experian,
Equifax and TransUnion. This request should be in
writing and in compliance with the requirements of
You can find more information on fraud reporting and requirements on the agency websites listed
below. Keep copies of all written correspondence with
the agencies, and write down notes that will help you
track the process. When sending correspondence,
send it certified mail so you have a record of it being
sent and received.
Contact any credit issuer or collection agency
listed on the minor’s credit report in writing and
explain that this is a case of identity theft. Ask each
bureau to remove all accounts, inquiries and collection notices from any file associated with your child’s
name and Social Security number. You should also
file a report with the Federal Trade Commission, the
nation’s consumer protection agency, at ftccomplaint
Here is a list of contact information to aid you in the
fraud resolution process.
• TransUnion Fraud Victim Assistance
• Equifax Consumer Fraud Division,
• Experian National Consumer Assistance
of the above for personal gain could be a stranger or,
even worse, a relative. ;e information may be frau-dently used to open ;nancial accounts; apply for
utility, cable or internet services; rent housing; get a
job; receive welfare or unemployment—the list of
possibilities goes on. Although laws safeguard personal information, your child could still be at risk.
Be aware of signs that point to information
being misused, such as calls from collection agencies, bills for products that weren’t purchased, ;nancial o;ers usually sent to adults and rejected federal
or state tax forms. A young adult may be denied
credit or loans, receive credit card bills for a card
that was never requested or, in extreme cases, be
arrested for a crime he or she didn’t commit.
Here are some steps you can take to prevent
child identity the;.
• Talk about identity the; with your family.
Teach your children not to post personal information on social media. Teach a young child not to give
out personal information to anyone without your
permission. Teach young adults about phone and
• Never share your child’s Social Security information with an unknown source.
Targeting the young
Protect your child from identity theft