Proactive tips to help ward off identity fraud against children
Children make easy targets for identity theft and fraudulent activity due to their pristine credit profiles. Predators are drawn to these identities because of the child’s presumed invisibility in the credit system. For this reason, it’s so important for parents to be vigilant in protecting the identities of their children.
Never give out any of your child’s identification numbers unless you already know and trust the recipient. It is okay to question why they need it, what they will do with it, and how they plan on safeguarding it.
Never carry your child’s important documents such as birth certificate or passport in a purse or wallet. Leave it at home in a secure place or in a safety deposit box.
Talk to your children about the risks of giving their personal information out to anyone online. It’s wise for today’s parents to monitor their kid’s activities online and through mobile devices, leaving them less chance for personal exposure.
Teach your child the risks of providing personal information, such as a government-issued identification number or mother’s maiden name, to anyone outside the immediate family.
Shred anything that includes your child’s personal information before putting it in the trash. A cross-shredder is a wise household investment so all documents with personal identifying information can be shredded.
Watch out for warning signs, such as:
• Credit cards arriving in the child’s name or calls from creditors regarding current and past due debts.
• Your child is unable to establish a checking or savings account, with or without a parent’s signature.
• You receive communications in your child’s name for applications or government matters that you are not aware of.
Monitor your child’s social networking accounts. Identity thieves troll social networking websites, so make sure private information like date of birth, address, and names of family members are not included in profiles. It’s also a good idea to set privacy settings so your child’s profile can only be viewed by friends and family.
If available, regularly check your child’s credit report. It is a good idea to regularly check whether your child has a credit report. If there is one and it has errors due to fraud or misuse you will have time to correct it before the child applies for a job, a loan for tuition or a car, or needs to rent an apartment.