Protecting Your Child's Identity
If your kids are like mine, they use technology all day everyday. They’re playing games on their phones, going on social media, browsing wikipedia pages, doing homework or texting their friends. They’re never too far away from their technology. As parents, we try to protect them by teaching them things like looking both ways before crossing the street or not talking to strangers, but are we teaching them how to protect themselves while they’re online? Did you know that 1.3 million kids have their identity stolen annually, 50% under 6-years-old? Identity thieves are stealing children’s information, and using them for long periods of time without anyone knowing. One study shows child credit and Social Security numbers abused at a rate 51 times greater than adults. So what can we do to protect our children’s identity?
Make sure you are asking why whenever you are asked to give out your child’s social security number - this includes at the doctor, the dentist, school, and more. Ask why they need the information and what they do to protect it. Be as careful with your child’s identity as you are with your own. Don’t carry around sensitive documents, like social security cards, with you. Make sure these are locked in a safe at home so they cannot be stolen.
Know the Warning Signs
Be on alert for suspicious activity. If a debt collector is calling about your child, and you have never signed them up for a credit card, this is a huge red flag. If you are getting bills in your child’s name, if pre-approved credit cards are mailed to your home addressed to them, or if they are served to appear in court, these are major red flags. The FTC recommends parents check if their children have credit reports in their name when they turn 16, and if there is a report in their name, freeze it.
Get Identity Protection
There are a lot of credit monitoring services that can alert you of suspicious activity on your child’s account and your own. While it may not prevent fraud, you’ll be alerted early enough that it won’t cause significant damage to your child’s credit. You can also freeze your child’s credit in some states so that it cannot be used.
Teach Your Kids About Online Security
Make sure you talk with your children about the importance of keeping their information private. It’s really easy for them to get tricked into giving out sensitive information, so make sure they know what not to share. Be sure that they should have to ask for parents permission to give out any information about themselves. Basic things you have taught them, like don’t talk to strangers, or speak up if they feel uncomfortable, also apply when they are online.
Due to the frequency of recent data breaches, it’s definitely worth the extra effort to protect your children from online identity thieves.