These days it seems like the news is filled with headlines about identity theft and the latest hacking incident at a credit bureau, bank or national retail chain. Since this crisis isn’t going away any time soon, we’re launching this monthly column to address this growing epidemic and point out some helpful tips to help you be proactive about protecting your identity and personal information.
Our first blog post will focus on keeping your entire family safe.
How to Keep Your Children’s Private Information Safe
When you hear about identity theft, it is usually a case affecting an adult’s private information. Unfortunately, your child’s identity is also at risk. Many don’t think that their children are a valuable commodity for hackers because they don’t have a driver’s license, credit history or part-time job, but the truth is that they are. As a parent, you don’t want to be in the awkward position of having your child’s college financial aid application rejected because someone else already used their information to apply.
Following are a few tips to keep your child’s information safe.
- Only share your child’s Social Security number with someone you know and trust. Ask why it’s necessary to provide the information and how it will be protected.
- Consider signing up for an identity theft protection service.
- ID Shield has a family package that will also track your children’s Social Security numbers and other government-issued documents such as passports.
- Shred all documents that show your child’s personal information before recycling.
- Know your rights. The federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), enforced by the U.S. Department of Education, protects the privacy of student records. You can also opt-out of sharing contact or other directory information with third parties, including other families.
- When your child turns 16, check to see if they have a credit report. If there is one — and it has errors due to fraud or misuse — you will have time to correct it before the child applies for a job, a loan for tuition or a car or needs to rent an apartment.
Be on alert for the following warning signs that your child’s identity might have been stolen. You or your child might:
- Be turned down for government benefits because the benefits are being paid to another account using your child’s Social Security number.
- Receive a notice from the IRS saying the child didn’t pay income taxes, or that the child’s Social Security number was used on another tax return.
- Get collection calls or bills for products or services you didn’t receive.
– Source: Federal Trade Commission website https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0040-child-identity-theft