Identity theft is not just for adults. Nearly one in four Americans have experienced identity theft of some type. Unethical online businesses find inactive social security numbers belonging to children and sell them to people who need to establish fake credit.
You may not be aware of this until years later when your child received threatening calls from collection agencies. Here are five ways to protect your child's identity:
Keep Personal Documents Safe
It's amazing the number of people who walk around with their social security card. If your wallet is stolen, so is your identity. Keep the card in a safe place at home; preferably in a waterproof and fireproof box. By no means should you give a social security card to your child.
Ask Questions When Personal Information Is Needed
Make sure you know where the information is going to be stored and who will have access to it. Also, use your common sense. Does the little league softball team REALLY need your child's social security number?
Teach Your Children About Internet Safety and Internet Scams
Scheming individuals will try and coerce information from you and your children. Make your children aware of these activities. It can be done through email (phishing), phone calls (vishing), and text messages (smishing). Your children (and you for that matter,) should never give persoanl information to unknown individuals or businesses.
That goes for their friends as well; your child sends personal information through a text or an email, it's out there forever; you don't know where it will fall. Of course, social networking sites are in this category; NO personal information that anyone has access to.
Watch For Signs Of Trouble
You'll know something is wrong if your child receives a call from a collection agency or receives a pre-approved credit card offer.
Get Your Child's Credit Report
Everyone, including your child, is entitled to a free credit report once per year. There are three credit bureaus, Experian, Equifax and TransUnion. Rotate a report request every four months from one of them, that way you'll get three free reports a year and you'll know if your child (or you) is (are) having their (your) identity stolen.
How many people do you know that have been affected by identity theft?