Experts: Parents should check children's credit to avoid fraud

VIDEO: Check children's credit reports, experts warn

SAN FRANCISCO, CA (CBS News) -- A lot of people look at their credit regularly to watch for suspicious activity.

But when's the last time you checked your child's credit? Experts believe it's worth a look to make sure scam artists haven't stolen your child's identity.

Between working two jobs and raising four kids, one of them with severe ADHD, Neala Elsworth didn't think things could get more complicated. Then Medi-Cal began denying her kids' insurance claims.

"They told me three out of four of my kids have another insurance," she said.

She soon discovered someone else was using her kids' social security numbers to get benefits in another state, an all-too common form of child identity theft.

"Child ID theft is about 50 higher than it is for adults, Kenneth Abbe of the Federal Trade Commission says.

Abbey cites a Carnegie Mellon Report that found one out of 10 children studied had someone else using their social security number, something parents don't often discover until their kids get credit card applications, collection notices, letters from the Internal Revenue Service, or worse, when they're denied a student loan.

"Parents should check every three to four years to see if their child has a credit report, but especially check when the child turns 16," Abbe said.

That should provide plenty of time, he says, to clean up compromised credit before they turn 18. Until then, kids shouldn't have a credit report at all.

To check, you can submit a request in writing to all three credit bureaus.

Elsworth is urging other parents to be proactive.

"Make sure your child's identity isn't getting stolen, because it could happen. I never thought it would happen to me but it's happened."

The FDIC website lists the following addresses for Equinox, Experian and Trans Union, the three major credit reporting agencies here:

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