SALT LAKE CITY — Taking the initiative to be proactive in the fight against child identity theft, Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff recently implemented a new Child Identity Protection program aimed at curtailing these crimes against children.
Partnering with national credit bureau TransUnion, Utahns can now protect their children against identity thieves by registering them with the state agency. Upon registration, the child's Social Security number is forwarded to the credit bureau, where it is placed into a "high-risk" database warning creditors not to issue credit to applicants using that number.
"Parents can proactively reduce the incidence of identity theft for their children through our CIP program," said Richard Hamp, the assistant attorney general who helped create the program. "Although the program does not completely eliminate the risk for past identity theft victims, it does reduce it."
All three credit reporting agencies have automated systems for requesting credit reports. A semiannual phone call is a good way to check whether a credit account has been activated for a child.
Call Equifax at 800-685-1111, Experian at 888-397-3742 and TransUnion at 800-916-8800.
When someone requests your child's social security number, ask questions before providing it, including why it is needed, who will have access to it, and how it will be safeguarded. If you are not comfortable, refuse to provide the number.
If your child becomes an identity theft victim, file a report with your local law enforcement agency. Federal law mandates that credit reporting agencies investigate and assist identity theft victims. Nevertheless, it all starts with a properly filed police report. Without one, creditors, collection agencies and credit reporting agencies are not required to act upon complaints.
To learn more about the Child Identity Protection program, visit its website at cip.utah.gov.
Bill Lewis is the principal of William E. Lewis Jr. & Associates.