NBC carried a story a few years back which was quite disturbing for me the watch. By age five, an innocent child, had some 17 credit cards in her name and had racked up thousands of dollars in credit card charges. This story is one of the many that dramatically revealed that identity thieves do discriminate on the basis of age or status. Everyone is fair game; the child, the deceased and the unsuspecting adult. While we may rarely think of identity theft affecting our children, it is becoming a fact of life that.
Protecting yourself and children from the vultures in our midst is not an impossible task. There are many things parents can do to ensure the protection of a child’s identity and avoid the devastating consequences.
Be aware of potential threats in the form of family and friends. Yes. As despicable as this sounds, statistics do support the fact that most child identity thefts are perpetrated by a relative or family friend. We trust our families and friends, however, if you don’t feel quite right about a situation, or question about your child’s personal information, go with your instinct.
Monitor what they do on the Internet. How many times have we heard this? We are of course, always quite concerned that what our kids are watching and doing on the Internet, is age appropriate . We are less concerned that they are providing information about themselves and posting their photos on line. Yes, we may have ensured that the site is “Wholesome”, but the fact remains that predators of all kinds can infiltrate any site, even a perceived “child friendly” site.
This may sound crazy, but get credit reports for your children. The worse that can happen is that you would have wasted a few minutes for a credit history that turns out to be clean. The alternative could have been much worse. You child could find out at age eighteen, when applying for a student loan, that she is heavily indebted to several credit card and loan companies.
Protect your child’s information. Properly dispose of any discarded, cards, letters or documents that may have names, addresses or other identifying information. When providing information to coaches, clubs and other organizations that your, evaluate the the need for or the relevance of the information requested. Your child’s personal information should only be given out on a carefully evaluated need to know basis.
When another person uses your child’s personal information for their own financial advantage, identity theft has occurred. Helping to secure your child from identity theft today can mean less heartaches for parents and child in the future. Talk to your child about the need to protect their information as well as about the facts of life as they relate to identity theft.