Did you know that child identity theft is a serious problem now? According to the 2012 report by the Javelin Strategy & Research, around 2.5% percent of the US households have had children victimized by identity theft. The primary reason for this is that child id theft is only noticed once the child reaches legal age and is denied credit because of bad credit caused by fraud.
Do you want identity thieves to prey on your kids, as well? Now that you’ve settled into school, you will have filled out the enrollment documents and school registration forms for your children. There’s a lot of personal identifying information exposed to schools and organizations, but you must be extra cautious in terms of protecting their sensitive data, because if thieves get a hand on those, your child’s identity could be used for ill-created profits. Therefore, not only do you have to be careful with whom you share it outside of your home, you must always protect your child’s documents and keep them in a safe place at home. And never forget to teach your kids about keeping their identities safe, as well.
Child identity theft – how serious is the problem?
“Kids” identity theft is on the rise. The independent research group Javelin Strategy & Research conducted an identity theft study in 2012 and found that approximately 2.5 percent of U.S. households have experienced child identity theft. The victims, children 18 years and below, can suffer heavily from identity theft, because the only time they may notice the crime is when they reach legal age and start applying for a job or credit, from which they are rejected because of damaged credit. Unfortunately, on the same report, Javelin found that identity theft cases in kids often go unnoticed and under reported.
Your child’s identity is their asset and investment for the future and failure to properly protect it can lead to years of misery and abuse in the hands of the wrong people. Now that you know the root of the problem is lack of awareness, you can utilize knowledge to fight back identity theft in your own simple yet absolutely effective ways.
Ways to prevent identity theft:
- Keep your child’s Social Security number in a safe place at home. Never bring it with you unless you absolutely need it. Most importantly, don’t share your child’s identifying information to anyone unless you’re the one who initiated the contact.
- Also, keep other personal identifying information (birth certificate, school documents or passport) in a safe location.
- Whenever you’re going to provide their social security number or other personal documents of your child to the school or an organization, ask first about how they’re going to protect and safely store these documents or information.
- Make sure you are aware of who has access to your child’s documents. Don’t hesitate to ask questions especially if you have clarifications to make; it’s your right to do so. If you can provide other documents to verify your child’s identity, apart from his/her social security number, feel free to ask the school’s representative if they will accept them instead.
- Take some time to engage in identity theft talks with your kids. This is a good way to help them become aware of the problem and make them more proactive in terms of taking care of their identity and personal information.
- Emphasize to your kids not to give away any details about themselves – such as their complete name, where they live, their date of birth or even their social security numbers – especially to strangers not affiliated with the school. Discuss with them the dangers of doing so and tell them to inform you right away when they encounter any of these in school or elsewhere.
- Make kids aware that they should know how to prevent identity fraud, especially when using the Internet. Teach them about safe online practices and these include the following – creating unique usernames and strong passwords, never sharing username and passwords even with their closest friends, not visiting unfamiliar sites that are not suitable for children, ignoring unsolicited emails coming from people they don’t know.
- Finally, you should never use your child’s Social Security number to apply for lines of credit. This may be tempting, especially if you have a severely injured credit reputation, but think about the serious repercussions it can do to your child’s future if in case you fail to pay your bills on time or accumulate too many debts than what you can handle.
- For teenagers and college students, always make sure that your valuables are with you all the time or if you’re going to leave them unattended, see to it that you have a locked cabinet or drawer where you can safely put them. If your teenage kids are sharing rooms with a classmate or a friend, tell them to be extra cautious about their belongings, especially their laptops and cell phones, because these contain some sensitive personal information about them and can be stolen without their knowledge.
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Joy Mali is an active finance blogger who is fond of sharing interesting finance related articles to encourage people to manage and protect their finances.