It comes as no surprise that identity theft and fraud have become an increasing threat in our daily lives. As technology becomes more sophisticated, hackers continue to find bigger and better ways to steal our identities. Surprisingly this theft isn’t limited to adults, but children are targets as well.
In 2011, Carnegie Mellon’s CyLab’s studied 42,000 minors and found that 10 percent of those studied had someone else using their social security number; this is 51 times higher than the 0.2% rate for adults in the same population.
Think about it… a child’s identity has a clean record making it extremely valuable to thieves as they can pair the child’s Social Security number with any name and birth date. Also, the probability of discovery is quiet low as very few parents check their children’s credit report. Unfortunately, parents are so busy checking their own report in order to provide a safe financial future for their families.
Alarmingly we now know that protecting our children’s identity is imperative. So take active part and protect your child’s credit from fraud. Here are a few steps you can take:
- Keep records safe, find a secure location for your child’s personal information and always shred documents with this information before throwing them away.
- Don’t share Social Security numbers – always ask why this is necessary and try to use another identifier unless you absolutely know and trust the party asking for them.
- Educate your child about identity theft and discuss the dangers of sharing personal data; help them understand the importance of keeping this information private.
- Check your mail – if pre-approved credit cards or loan offers in your child’s name start appearing regularly, this may be an indicator that your child may have an open credit file.
- IRS Tax Bill – if you receive one in your child’s name this can be a clear indicator that identity theft may have occurred
- Go to the Federal Trade Commission website – you will find instructions on how to do a credit check on your child and how to repair the damage. They also have free resources to assist you in protecting you and your child’s identity.
- Another great resource is Identity theft Research Center where you can find fact sheets and guides providing parent’s valuable information at no cost to you.
As parents we automatically think to take care of our child’s safety, health, education, and well-being. But protecting a child’s financial future is part of the world we live in today. Take that extra step and “Safe Guard” your child’s financial future against Identity Theft.
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