Identity theft is a major problem for everyone, however, in recent years, children have become a prime target of identity thieves who, if they are able to get identifying information on a child such as the child’s Social Security number, can open a credit report on behalf of the child and obtain credit in the child’s name.  The identity thief never pays back the money accessed through the child’s credit and the child is burdened with a bad credit report that can have a deleterious effect on the child when he or she applies for credit, applies for a job, applies for a scholarship or tries to lease an apartment.  Often the identity theft is not discovered until years after the identity theft initially occurs which makes it more difficult to remedy.  A credit freeze is a tremendous tool for fighting identity theft because it prevents an identity thief who even has your Social Security number from accessing your credit report for purposes of establishing credit in your name. Unfortunately, the credit reporting agencies do not generally permit credit freezes for minors except in the minority of states that have laws requiring them to do so by law.
Recently Terbium Labs discovered that, in a disturbing development, Social Security numbers of infants are now being sold on the Dark Web, that part of the Internet where criminals buy and sell goods and services. Advertisements on the Dark Web urge criminals to buy the infant Social Security numbers soon in order to use them for income tax identity theft. The Social Security numbers of infants would be particularly helpful to income tax identity thieves because there would be no chance of the infant filing an income tax return using the Social Security number before the identity thief filed the phony return.
If you live in one of the states that permit minor children to have and freeze credit reports and have minor children, you should contact each of the three major credit reporting agencies, Equifax, Experian and TransUnion in order to freeze your child’s credit.  And while you are at it, you should also freeze your own credit reports as your best precaution against identity theft. For information about how to put a credit freeze on your own credit reports go to the Search For Scams tab at the top of the page and type in “credit freeze.”  If your state does not have such a law, let your state legislators know that you want them to pass such a law.  Parents should, as much as possible, try to limit the places that have their child’s Social Security number and become familiar with the Family Educational Rights Privacy Act which helps you protect the privacy of your child’s school records and lets you opt out of information sharing by the school with third parties.  Finally, the security company AllClear ID ( provides a free service called ChildScan which not only searches credit records tied to your child’s Social Security number, but also checks employment records, criminal records and medical records to recognize at an early stage if your child has become a victim of identity theft.