It’s hard to believe, but we are already halfway through the summer. Where does the time go? I know I’ll be trying to fit in as much beach time and as many barbecues as possible this month, but I’ll also be helping my niece and nephew get ready to go back to school. This includes teaching them what they can do to protect themselves against identity theft––keeping their personally identifiable information safe.
Kids have increasingly become targets of identity theft, as they have unblemished credit histories and no debt. They also have social security numbers––candy to identity thieves who might use them to open financial and credit card accounts. Thieves could potentially spend thousands of dollars in your child’s name and ruin his or her credit without your knowledge.
Here are some things to consider in order to keep your kids safe from identity theft this school year.
Online. Even the youngest school-age children are using the internet for research these days, so make sure you teach your child how to stay safe online. The best approach is to stay involved and aware. Try setting up a family computer in the living room to ensure your kids aren’t sneaking off with a mobile device to surf the web. Youngsters can be tempted to mirror what their older siblings are doing on social media sites, so create safe zones on devices so they can’t access the social realm and unwittingly share private information. Make sure they know not to share their online passwords, or personally identifiable information like their name, address, date of birth, etc., with “friendly” strangers. Or anyone whom they do not know well.
At school. Many schools often ask for a child’s social security number (SSN) and date of birth when they enroll. Oftentimes, this isn’t necessary, and you never know who might be able to access this information or how safe the organization will keep it. If someone at a school asks you for the SSN of your child, be sure to ask them what it will be used for, who will have access to the information, and where it will be stored. You have the right to opt out and say you’d rather not provide the number. If there is a legitimate reason for them to use it, find out how they will keep it stored and safe.
Sports teams. If your child plays sports, tell him or her to be careful about sharing personal information on sign-up sheets or other heavily circulated documents. You never know who might be volunteering or who is attending practices, when you might not be there to supervise. So tell your kids to play it safe and ask whomever is in charge to contact you directly for information.
Doctor, dentist, and ER. When you take your child for medical treatment, you are usually asked to fill out or update forms with your child’s personal information, medications, etc. You probably don’t need to share your child’s SSN on these forms. You never know where they might end up and who will have access to them down the road. Unless it’s a specific request for insurance or billing purposes, play it safe and leave it off the form.
On the go. Don’t carry your child’s social security card or birth certificate around with you. Keep them safely locked up in a home safe or a safe deposit box.
Protect Your Kids From Identity Theft
It’s important that you take child identity theft seriously and maintain the proper precautions to protect your kids. Enrolling in IdentityForce’s UltraSecure with ChildWatch is a great way to keep your kids safe. Remember, if anything does happen, IdentityForce will be with you every step of the way, helping to restore your child’s identity.
Image courtesy of Flickr user Bart Everson.