We have all, at one time or another, been concerned about having our identities stolen whether it be over the internet or in other ways we have learned we can be scammed. As adults, we almost have come to expect that we can be victims of scams and id thefts but have you ever really considered how safe your child’s identity is these days?
Believe it or not, there are many parents who will learn their own child has been a victim or identity theft as the number of reported cases to the Federal Trade Commission has been steady rising in the new millennium. But how do you know if your child’s credit or name is in jeopardy? Well, there are a few ways to tell. It is your job as the parent to take charge and make sure your child’s identity is protected. Here is what you can do to protect your children from fraud:
Pay Attention to the Mail
Have you noticed that your child has started getting offers in the mail for credit cards or solicitations for new products and services. This may not be a sure sign your child’s information is being misused but it can definitely be a red flag warning. It is possible that someone who has stolen your child’s information, you will see bills in their name but it doesn’t always happen that way.
Become Diligent About School and Extra-Curricular Activity Applications
As any parent of a school-aged child can tell you, sending your child to school or out for the soccer team, requires a ton of paperwork and information about your child, including social security numbers and date of birth. Because of the sensitive nature of this information, you need to ensure that your paperwork is always returned to school and the coaches in a sealed envelope. You want to make sure your child turns in important information directly to the teacher and that applications are not left to float around the school.
Know Where Your Child Goes Online
With popular sites like Facebook, there is no telling what your child will post online about themselves or their private information. Younger children may have no concept as to how another person can misuse social security numbers or birth dates against them. As a parent, you should not allow younger children to use the internet without your participation. For older children, be very direct about the dangers of revealing too much personal information to online sources. In some cases involving the internet, identity theft can be the least of the worries.
Request a Credit Report
If you even suspect something is not right concerning your child’s credit, contact the credit bureas and request a copy in your child’s name. If you receive a reply that your child does not have a credit report from any of the agency, be glad. It means that there has been no fraudulent activity using your child’s name. However, if you find that there is credit in your kid’s name, report it immediately.
One of the main reasons this situation can become out of control is that many families will not realize young children can be victims of identity fraud; therefore no one will ever think to check up on a credit report. The thieves can then use the credit of the young victim for years before anyone ever realizes anything bad has happened. Protecting your whole family from fraud and identity theft is now a common occurrence. Don’t let your child get taken for a ride and fall deep in debt before their college years or you may find it very hard to get them back out.