Identity theft is a crime that doesn’t solely target adults.
I’ve written before how teenagers on social networking sites can fall prey to id theft but it doesn’t stop there either.
Children of all ages need protecting now, even newborn babies.
As with all types of identity theft, the orchestrator of such a crime is often known to the victim.
GOOD FRIENDS OFTEN WANT TO BE JUST LIKE YOU
Disturbingly, identity thieves often turn out to be friends or family members.
That said, some criminals do specifically target any children that they can find because it is likely that their crime will go undetected for longer than if an adult had been selected.
How many of you check your child’s credit reports?
Not many I would imagine, and that’s why they are so enticing to identity thieves.
In many cases, babies and young children may not find out that they have been a victim until many years later when they try to open their first bank account, or apply for a college loan and are turned down.
In extreme cases it has even been known for children to catch the attention of law enforcement for crimes that others have committed in their names.
With that in mind, here are some ideas for how you can minimise the risk of your child’s identity being stolen –
6 SIMPLE TIPS FOR AVOIDING UNDER-AGE IDENTITY THEFT
1. Teach your children the value of privacy.
Many adults fail to keep their personal data private.
Teach your children from a young age that they need to keep some things to themselves, i.e. passwords, Social Security numbers, PIN numbers, bank account details, etc.
2. Leave their Social Security cards somewhere safe at home.
This tip is universal and applies to everyone, regardless of their age.
3. Be wary of who you give your child’s Social Security Number or copy of their birth certificate to.
Obviously there are times and places for giving out such information, such as when you apply for a bank account for your child, or when you register them at a school.
On other occasions you should consider whether divulging such information is absolutely necessary.
4. Encourage your children to use strong passwords.
Another common sense tip is to teach your children to use secure passwords.
Passwords, such as their names should be discouraged for obvious reasons.
Also, for older children who have PINs it would be wise to get them to change them to a number that isn’t easily guessed.
5. Read your child’s bank statements.
Many parents will automatically discard their young childrens’ bank statements because they know there won’t be any transactions recorded on them.
If your child has become an identity theft victim then that won’t be the case so it would be wise to have at least a cursory look.
6. Take advantage of a free credit report for your child.
Under Federal law it is not only adults who are entitled to a free credit report each year.
Children can have a free report from each of the three credit bureaus too and these should be checked in order to confirm that there has been no unexpected activity on them.