Many years ago, making sure our bank statements were shredded, credit card numbers were blacked out on bills, and that we weren’t inadvertently leaving other identifying information in the trash was all that was necessary to prevent fraud. Today, thieves can live out entire lives as someone else: earning paychecks, buying homes, setting up bank accounts and credit cards – even getting married and starting families!
But now, it is even extending beyond us having to be aware to keep our own identities safe. Recently, children have become one of the most popular targets for identity theft.
Why are children targeted?
According to TransUnion, one of the major credit reporting agencies, children are often the target for identity theft because the crime may go undetected for so long. Most children receive their Social Security Number shortly after they are born, and it may be twenty years or more before that child applies for credit and discovers what already exists under their name and social security number. Checking your children’s information annually can help stop this type of identity theft.
We are all becoming more savvy when it comes to guarding our information, but keeping your child’s information safe should be just as high on your priority list. Here are a few tips to help you keep your childrens’ information protected:
1. Keep documents secure
Never carry your child’s Social Security card, birth certificate, passport, or any other identifying documents with you unless you need them that day. Keep these items securely stored at all times. If you ever need these documents to prove your child’s identity, make sure that you keep them on your person and return them when you are finished.
2. Know who is looking
Doctors and hospitals often use Social Security numbers to identify patients and link people to their health insurance carriers. Usually, individual providers do not need the SSN of each individual child, only the plan holder. If you are being asked to provide your child’s number, see if it is actually necessary or just routine and only provide it if you must. Keep track of everyone you have given the number to so if anything should come up, you’ll know where to start looking for answers.
3. Check your child’s records
Request a free credit report every year when you check your own. The credit bureaus should not have any history for an individual until an actual credit account has been opened so this is one way to know if this has been done using your child’s name, date of birth, and Social Security Number.
Get a Social Security Earnings record. We all receive them for ourselves; don’t forget to request them for your children. If someone has stolen your child’s identity to obtain work, this may be the only way you’ll find out. Reports can be requested directly from the Social Security Administration’s website.
4. Talk to your kids
Make sure your kids understand that keeping their information private is important. Understanding credit, credit histories and identity theft are concepts that may be too complicated for children to truly grasp so make sure the conversation is targeted appropriately. Children should know not to give out any of their information, including their last name, address, birth date, parents’ names, or any other information – especially online.
Keeping your children’s information secure and teaching them about the importance of privacy when it comes to sensitive information will help prevent your children from becoming victims. Thieves are skilled at drawing information out of children so be sure to talk to them often so they are prepared. A few simple steps will go a long way towards keeping their identities safe.
Nicole has been writing about identity theft for years. For people who are looking for more identity theft protection, she recommends bestidtheftcompanys.com.