Why would someone want to steal a child’s identity? Thieves will steal a minor’s personal information to commit fraud, get a job, take out loans they don’t intend to pay back or even hide from the authorities. The criminals are smart and some folks don’t find out that a child’s identity has been stolen until they apply for college. By that time, undoing the damage can be a challenge.
While adults can monitor their own credit reports every few months, most parents don’t think to check if their child has a credit file. This can result in a nasty surprise when the child grows up and applies for a car loan or other credit.
Protecting your Children’s Future
Defend Your Child’s Personal Information
Here are six ways to protect your child’s personal information:
1) Keep any documents containing your child’s personal information locked away. This includes her date of birth, her Social Security number and birth certificate. Also any medical or school forms that contains any of this information. If you carry your child’s Social Security card with you and your purse is stolen, the crook will sell your child’s information, so leave the SS card at home.
2) Only give your child’s Social Security number to trusted individuals. Never give it over the phone. There are alternative forms of ID that can be used.
3) If you must share personal information on the internet, make sure the website has a lock icon in the address bar along with a web address beginning with “https.”
4) Keep your computer’s antivirus and firewall protection up to date. Never send personal or financial information through an unsecured public wifi connection.
5) Always log out of any site that contains personal or financial information when you’re done.
6) Familiarize yourself with the notices that schools are required to supply that explain your rights under FERPA, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act. This law protects the confidentiality of a student’s education records. It allows you to prohibit the releasing of information to third parties.
The Warning Signs
Identity thefts are committed by family members, neighbors, or someone who the family has never met. All that is required access to a child’s personal information. Here are a few things to keep on the lookout for to prevent child identity theft:
1) Calls from bill collectors or bills from companies that you don’t do business with. Offers for credit cards come to your home in your child’s name.
2) Your child is denied a government benefit—such as a student loan--because your child’s Social Security number is associated with another account.
3) You are asked by a governmental agency to confirm your child’s employment and your child has never had a job.
4) Your child’s name and Social Security number is listed on someone else’s tax return filed with the IRS.
5) The IRS says that your child failed to pay income taxes and your child has no income.
The key word here is "vigilance", you must always be on your guard because the crooks are always on the prowl. For more information on protecting yourself from Identity Theft or to find out about a 24/7 protection service, contact Ann Alford.