We are constantly trying to protect our children — “don’t put that in your mouth,” “look both ways before crossing,” “don’t run with scissors.”
But what about protecting your child’s identity? It may not be something we think about too often, but it is important to keep in mind, especially with the amount of identity theft scams that occur each year. BBB Scam Tracker has received nearly 600 identity theft scams just this year alone.
It’s important to pay attention to situations that may put your child’s information and identity at risk. Who has access to his or her information? Has there been a recent data breach? Pay special attention to notices from your child’s school or organizations they participate in.
The Identity Theft Resource Center says child identity theft can be discovered in several cases:
▪ When attempting to open a savings account or college fund for the child. In this scenario, an unoffending parent discovers there is already an account with that SSN or that the new account is denied due to a bad check record;
▪ When numerous credit cards, checks, pre-approved credit card offers, bills or bank statements are received in the name of the child;
▪ When collection agencies call or send letters about accounts not opened by the child;
▪ When a teen is denied the right to get a driver’s license because another person has a license with that SSN as ID. The imposter may even have accumulated tickets or citations in the child’s name;
▪ While going through papers during a divorce or while straightening up the house (parental identity theft).
If you see activity that doesn’t match up, visit identitytheft.gov to begin the recovery process. If you suspect your child’s identity has been stolen, contact the three credit reporting agencies and ask for a manual search. You may be asked to provide his or her birth certificate, Social Security card, your proof of identity and/or proof of address. Consider placing a freeze on credit until it’s needed.
Identity theft can happen to anyone, at any age. Limit the risk by taking these steps:
Protect information: File all paper and electronic records in a safe and secure location.
Don’t share if you don’t have to: Inquire if the information being asked is required. Ask if you can use a different identifiable number, other than your child’s Social Security Number.
Ask how your information will be protected: Find out how sensitive information at your child’s school or doctor’s office will be secured.
Destroy safely: Shred all documents that contain your child’s personal information.
Keeping an eye on your child’s identity, and taking steps to protect it, will help set them up for the future when they are ready to start applying for jobs, car loans, student loans and a place to rent. So, while you’re busy getting gum out of your daughter’s hair or checking for monsters under the bed, you may as well add “Super Child Identity Protector” to your parenting repertoire.