Protecting Financial Futures
Every year, millions of people are victims of fraud, and child identity theft takes advantage of some of the most vulnerable individuals. Children are considered easy targets with high value because it could be years before a child applies for credit and finds out his or her data is compromised. This is compounded by the fact that credit agencies don’t know an application is for a child — the age of a person is set in credit agency databases by the first application. This makes it easy to construct a false adult identity using a child’s social security number. In some cases, a family member — including a parent — uses a child’s identity to gain credit.
Ways to Protect Against Child Identity Theft
Protect your child’s financial future by protecting his or her personal information by:
- Avoid providing social security numbers unless absolutely required.
- Don’t carry your child’s social security card in a purse or wallet regularly.
- Keep records in a secure location.
- Shred items that are no longer useful instead of throwing them in the garbage.
- Understand how your child’s information will be used by medical and educational programs.
- Read privacy notifications from schools and doctor’s offices, and ask questions about how records are handled, shared, and disposed of. If you’re not familiar with FERPA (Family Education Rights and Privacy Act), the privacy laws governing schools.
You can also protect your entire family from identity theft by enrolling in programs that monitor credit reports. By locking or freezing your child’s credit, any application is denied and you receive notification that someone has applied using your child’s personally identifiable information.
When Protections Fail
You can repair the damage of child identity theft. Doing so usually involves a lot of paperwork, time spent on the phone, and headaches, though. Proactive prevention is an easier way to protect your child’s financial future.
What do you do to prevent child identity theft?