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What can I do if my child is a victim of identity theft?

January 4, 2012: 5:05 AM ET

Someone used my 10-year-old's Social Security number to open a bank account. What do I do? — Luis Serrano, Fontana, Calif.

Since your child's number got into the wrong hands once, chances are it could be misused again, with messier results—a loan in her name, maybe. Once you verify that the bank knows of the fraud, directly contact the big credit-reporting agencies—Equifax, Experian, and Trans­Union—to see whether someone has used your child's number to apply for credit. If so, file a police report; that will put the fraud on record.

Going forward, look out for credit-related offers in your child's mail—hints that her identity has again been stolen. You can obtain a new Social Security number if problems persist, but red tape should make that a last resort, according to Gabby Beltran of the Identity Theft Resource Center.

— Greg Swiatek

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