We all know that parenting is all encompassing. And, protecting a child means more than just keeping him or her out of physical harm’s way. Here’s another level of complexity to add to that responsibility: you need to take steps to protect your child’s identity.
Far too many young adults are hit by a very harsh reality when they first apply for credit. They learn that their identities were stolen when they were children, and that their credit was ruined by an identity thief before they ever got a chance to establish it for themselves.
Richard Power of Carnegie Mellon CyLab, recently published a report on child identity theft based on identity protection scans of over 40,000 U.S. children. The findings are alarming, and include the fact that 10.2% of the children studied had someone else using their Social Security numbers. To provide perspective, among adults in the same population, the figure is 0.2%. This means that as identity theft becomes more rampant, increasingly, children are the targets.
Here are some steps to take, and things to keep in mind, in order to protect your child from identity theft:
- Give out your child’s Social Security number as infrequently as possible. Ask the requesting party why they need it, what steps they will take to protect it, and if there’s any other form of identification other than an SSN that would be acceptable.
- Keep your documents secure. It can’t be said often enough! Storing your child’s birth certificate and Social Security card in an easily accessible or obvious location, such as a home office filing cabinet or desk drawer, is like handing their identity over to a potential thief. These documents need to be accessed very infrequently. The peace of mind and long-term protection make investing in a home safe or safe deposit box worthwhile.
- Keep an eye out for warning signs. If your child receives mail you wouldn’t expect, or credit card offers, something is awry.
- Know how and when to check your child’s credit report. If you suspect your child may be the victim of identity theft, you can contact the Credit Reporting Agencies (CRAs) to check if a credit report exists in your child’s Social Security Number. The best news would be an answer of “there is no report” in which case you would not proceed further. Only order a child’s credit report when you have a firm reason to do so, such as the knowledge that the report already exists.
- Enroll in ProtectMyID and take advantage of ChildSecureSM. Let ProtectMyID help you protect the whole family.
As a parent, you protect your child from many elements. Studies show that it’s important to add protecting your child’s identity to the list. For more information, go to ProtectMyID.com.