Dear Readers,

This week’s topics are theft of a minor’s identity and perfectionist children.



Dear Carolyn,

I am going through a separation. I’m the mother of three children all of whom are in elementary school. Something strange arrived in the mail three days ago. My 6-year-old first grader got a credit card saying that he had been approved for $5,000 of credit. My child shares a similar name with his father, “my estranged husband.” I am concerned about how anyone or any credit card company would send my 6-year-old a credit card. I’m also suspicious of my estranged husband as I don’t trust him financially. Do you think it is possible that my 6-year-old has had his identity stolen? If so, any ideas on what to do about it?


Carolyn Answers,

Any person with a Social Security number has the potential for identity theft. That means 6-year-olds can have a stolen identity. Greater than one million children (minors) had identity theft issues last year. Around 60 percent of these children were under 7 years of age, and 60 percent of the identity theft perpetrators of children under 7 were known perpetrators, such as parents. Quite frankly, a parent going through divorce stealing the identity of a child is much more common than one might think, as horrific as that sounds.

Other potential identity theft for minors would be through social networking and the dark web. Data breaches can happen regarding data of minor children, as children’s Social Security numbers are generally on parent’s income tax returns (and other places).

The actions step is to check your child’s credit report and then freeze the credit report, effectively freezing your child’s credit until he needs it.

How do you check the credit report of a minor? You can call Equifax at (800) 525-6285, Experian at (888) 397-3742 or Transunion at (800) 680-7289. Place a fraud alert on your child’s credit report. Children over the age 13 can get a free annual credit report at, but under age 13, a parent must call the three credit bureaus individually.

So my suggestion is to create or obtain an existing Equifax credit report of your 6-year-old. If there is not an Equifax report, then create a report and freeze it. Quite frankly, this should be added to the list of what parents should do when a child gets a Social Security number. It’s a protective freeze that can be lifted when the child reaches an age where credit is needed, such as at college.

The problem with credit theft of minor children is that it can go undetected for a very long time. You were lucky that you got the piece of mail that indicated something is going on with your child’s credit.

Another service that is available is LifeLock Junior, if you are interested in a service.



Dear Carolyn,

I am the father of a fifth grader who is 10 years old. His mother and I share joint custody, 50/50, with this 10-year-old son and his 11-year-old sister. The two children are quite different. The son, who I’m writing about, is highly academic and structured, but seems to lack self-confidence. His sister loves to dance and shows less anxiety over the divorce. My son makes straight A’s and hardly ever makes less than 100 on a test. His sister is an A/B student. My son is critical of my daughter for not being a straight-A student. My son frequently talks about high school and college and how if he makes anything less than 100 it’s going to affect his chance to get into a great school. He is embarrassed if he makes less than 100. It seems to me he feels inadequate. He lacks self-confidence in any sport. And he cannot handle criticism of even the least little thing like asking him to tie his shoes more tightly. He has his aspirations set on Harvard or Duke.

I think the divorce is playing into my son’s anxiety. I suppose his mother might be egging him on, on his quest for perfection. What can help with this quest for perfection by my son? How can I reduce his anxiety?


Carolyn Answers,

Aw, you may have a perfectionist, and that can be a liability. It can create great anxiety. You described several qualities of perfectionists, namely exceptionally high expectations with his grades; he seems easily embarrassed if he doesn’t make 100; he seems to have a lot of anxiety for a 10-year-old about the stakes on college. And a telltale sign is that he’s critical of his sister. He’s highly sensitive to criticism himself, as you mentioned with the shoelace example.

So what to do? I have five suggestions for dealing with a perfectionist child with the goal of making perfectionism an asset, not a liability.

First, you must give your son unconditional love and let him know it.

Second, he needs a calm, uncluttered, structured environment for success. You might look at his study area.

Third, is there any comparing between the two children going on? That would not be good for this situation.

Fourth, do not use the words brilliant, genius, perfect. Avoid those words; lessen the rhetoric.

Five, listen carefully to your child. Teach him that it is impossible to complete all tasks without mistakes. Mistakes are part of being in the human race.

Finally, if the anxiety doesn’t lessen, you might search out a child psychologist to help with the problem.




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