Thieves are targeting your child's Social Security Number - Cleveland 19 News Cleveland, OH

Thieves are targeting your child's Social Security Number

PALMETTO, GA (CBS46) -

A warning for parents - thieves could be claiming your child on their fraudulent tax return. Children have become the fastest growing sector of identity fraud.

Tax fraud has cost the government and taxpayers millions of dollars and has compromised the credit history of millions of children.

“I was angry. I was like, "Who would do that, who's that desperate,'” questioned Melanie Nunn.

Thieves were desperate enough to claim Nunn's daughter Sarah on their fraudulent tax return. Now, in addition to regular teenage chores, Sarah's forced to keep up with her credit report.

“Somebody's selfish moment has caused my life to go into reverse,” said 18-year-old Sarah Nunn.

It's happening to kids of all ages, from birth to adolescents. It's been a chore for the Nunns to fix.

“We had to file a police report and then we had to submit that evidence to the Federal Trade Commission,” said Melanie Nunn.

The Nunns have no idea how Sarah's social security number was compromised.

“For protection reasons and privacy laws, the IRS would not tell me who did it,” said Nunn. They also won't tell the Nunns if they've prosecuted the individuals responsible.

It's big business. Children's social security numbers are more valuable because most have no credit history. That means fewer chances one of the three credit agencies is watching, allowing thieves to cash in, especially on tax returns. According to the IRS, the deductions of a dependent can be worth thousands. Thieves can also create what's called a “synthetic identity,” matching your child's social security number with a different date of birth, creating a fake W-2 and filing the return as an adult.

The Nunns have put a lock on Sarah Nunn's social security number and she's asking more questions.

“What are you using it for? Why do you need it? How long do you need it for? Can you show me what you're going to be doing with it,” questions Sarah Nunn when anyone asks her for her social security number.

It's not only a problem for her mother, who still claims Sarah as a dependent while she's in school, but Sarah worries what it will mean as she looks for jobs or applies for a loan to get a new car.

“I shouldn't have to ask to use my stuff. It's very hard not to get upset at that,” said Sarah Nunn.

Parents should guard their child's social security numbers like their own.  Don't carry your child's social security card in your wallet or purse. While it's okay to provide that number to a child's school or pediatrician, you should try to keep their social security number as private as possible.

If your child's tax return was compromised here are the steps you should take:

  1. Report the fraud to your local law enforcement.
  2. Use that police report to file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission.
  3. Report the fraud to the IRS and request a pin number for future tax filings.
  4. If you have your credit under monitoring, be sure to include your child's social security number.

Warning signs your child's personal information is compromised and fraud is occurring:

  • You receive bills or notices for products or services you didn't receive, including medical care.
  • You're turned down for government benefits because the benefits are being paid to another account using your child's Social Security Number.
  • You receive a notice from the IRS saying the child didn't pay taxes on income or that the child's Social Security number was used on another tax return.

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