Photo: Flickr / Etolane
Children are 51 times more likely than adults to have their identities stolen, according to a recent Carnegie Mellon University study. That’s because children are pretty easy targets—they have clean slates and often don’t discover what’s happened until years later.
As child identity theft in the U.S. continues to rise, Equifax is the first of the three credit bureaus to roll out a comprehensive credit monitoring service for the whole family, up to four children included.
But it comes at a hefty price of $29.95 per month.
Some of the features Equifax offers in its new family plan include 24/7 credit file monitoring, access to credit scores once every 12 months, and alerts on any activity against the children’s files.
But this all just sounds like another way to profit from people’s fears. Lately credit bureaus have been getting slammed by the FTC for upselling credit monitoring services and making it difficult for people to report fradulent activity.
What’s more, credit monitoring doesn’t prevent theft. Your Money contributor Stacy Johnson says,
“Monitoring your credit is marketed as if it’s a burglar alarm that keeps bad guys out. But what it more closely resembles is an alarm that’s tripped as the bad guys are leaving. By definition, credit monitoring can only monitor transactions that have already occurred. What you want is to prevent them from happening in the first place.”
FTC spokesman Steven Toporoff told NBC TODAY parents can check a child’s credit report for free every three to four years for good measure.
If anything looks suspicious, immediately request a credit report from all three bureaus, he says. Parents can also contact the Identity Theft Resource centre for free help.
Additional basic tips to deter identity theft per the FTC include:
1. Protect your Social Security number
2. Don’t give out personal information on the phone, through the mail, or on the Internet.
3. Don’t click on links sent in unsolicited emails.
4. Use a difficult password for any accounts.