How To Protect Your Child From Identity Theft
Adults aren’t the only ones vulnerable to and targeted for identity theft, children also have a target on their identity.
As adults, we are aware that our identity is at risk everyday, especially with so much online shopping, banking and credit card information being passed around. The difference between adult and child identity theft is that as adults we think about the possibility and monitor our accounts, check our credit scores and just keep a general eye open for theft, and even then, identities get stolen on a regular basis. The problem lies in the fact that we don’t often think about our children’s identity being at risk.
In the year 2017, over 1 million children had their identity stolen, the majority of which were under the age of 7. Why would anyone want to steal a child’s identity you ask…they don’t have large bank accounts or credit card balances. No, but they have perfect credit, making it so easy for the thief to open up several lines of credit in a child’s name and have the freedom to charge large sums.
The child on the other hand, and their parents, are unsuspecting, and by the time he/she would like to use their credit, it’s totally ruined, and their identity is no longer theirs.
Watch for the warning signs…
- Your child begins receiving collection notices.
- The IRS begins trying to collect back taxes from your child.
- Your child starts receiving pre-approved credit offers, or unsolicited credit cards.
- Business solicitations for either services or products come to your home in your child’s name.
- If you try to open a savings account in your child’s name and are turned down because there is negative information about them on a consumer report.
Tips to protect your child’s identity…
Sure, you can hope your child’s identity will never be stolen, but sadly enough, “hope is not a strategy”…you must take an active role in protecting it.
- One of the first things we do when a child is born is register him/her for a social security card…guard it with your life. (well, almost)
- Be careful who you share the number with. Although there are some legitimate reasons for you to share the number – to open a bank account, get medical coverage, get a savings bond or to claim your child as your dependent on tax returns – never be afraid to ask why it’s needed and how they will keep it safe.
- Whenever possible offer only the last 4 digits of their SS# or an alternative form of identification.
- Whenever you check your own credit score, make it a habit to check your child’s at the same time.
- When you open a new banking account for your child, be sure to make it a joint account with one or both parents on the account also…this way, no one can access it without your approval or knowledge.
- Whenever setting up passwords for social media accounts or anything else online, remember not to use any identifying information in the password such as birthdate, address or phone number. You be the person in charge of keeping control of any passwords, this not only allows you access to the account, but keeps them safe from being shared.
- Also, warn your children of the dangers of putting too much personal information on their social media accounts, it may seem harmless enough, but there are people out there who are watching for it.
- Consider hiring a fraud protection company that monitors accounts and alerts you when there is questionable activities on them.
- Be sure to shred any private information that isn’t getting filed away…just tossing it in the trash is not secure.
- Credit bureaus offer a service of freezing credit until the child is 18 years old, then if there is any efforts made to access that credit, you get notified.
- Talk to your children about the importance of protecting their personal information.
Don’t wait until your child’s credit has been compromised, leaving you with a big cleanup job and possible expenses, put controls into place that will help you avoid any future problems.
Give us a call at Whitcomb Insurance, along with great insurance options, we also offer Financial Services, and would would be happy to sit down with you, help you decide what would serve you best, and answer any questions you might have. You can count on us to be totally honest and upfront with you!
Contact us or give us a call at 425-391-8731.