The American Library Association wants you to join them in Choose Privacy Week, an annual initiative that focuses on privacy rights, especially for youth. Let’s review ways to keep your child’s identity safe as a contribution to Choose Privacy Week.
How to Protect Your Child From Identity Theft
There are countless ways identity theft can happen. Increasingly, attacks are happening online and to younger victims. Knowing about privacy can help keep your children’s information safe from cyber attacks and identity thieves, which can prevent the need for debt assistance later in life.
Spotting Child Identity Theft
Unfortunately, children can become victims of identity theft without even knowing it or thinking it was possible. With more and more information being posted online to social media by parents and friends, identity thieves have more to go on than ever before. Their information is also being collected by schools and other institutions that may face a cyber attack.
Here are a few warning signs from the FTC that your child may be facing identity theft:
- Being turned down for government benefits because the benefits are being paid to another account using your child’s Social Security number
- Getting a notice from the IRS saying the child didn’t pay income taxes, or that the child’s Social Security number was used on another tax return
- Getting collection calls or bills for products or services you didn’t receive
If you see any of these warning signs or anything else that seems out of place, the next step is to check the child’s credit report for errors or misuse. It’s a good idea, in general, to check on this around their 16th birthday to spot any errors prior to job hunting.
The FTC advises some additional steps to repair identity theft damage which include contacting each of the credit reporting agencies, placing a fraud alert and filing an identity theft report.
Protecting Privacy & Preventing Child Identity Theft
There are several ways to protect your child’s identity from attacks. Here are a few suggestions to get you started thinking through both online and offline protections you can put in place.
- Keep all paper and electronic records with your child’s personal information in a safe location.
- Don’t share your child’s Social Security number unless you know and trust the other party. Ask why it’s necessary and how it will be protected. Ask if you can use a different identifier, or use only the last four digits of your child’s Social Security number.
- Shred all documents that show your child’s personal information.
- If you lose a wallet, purse or paperwork that has your child’s Social Security information, be sure to report them missing.
Paper trails exist on paper and electronically. Protecting your child from identity theft can help prevent future financial and other serious ramifications. In the spirit of Choose Privacy Week, reevaluate your records and social media habits to make sure that you are making the best efforts to protect you and your children’s privacy.
For more information on identity theft, visit ACCC’s Identity Theft resources.