Harris-Courage & Grady, PLLC
Protect Your Child From Identity Theft
Everyone knows that identity theft is a risk for adults, but it is also a risk for children. Identity thieves will sometimes use a child’s identity to obtain credit. Don’t let this happen to the children in your life!
Protect your child from identity theft with these strategies:
- Protect your child’s personal information. You can help prevent identity theft by keeping your child’s personal information safe. Avoid sharing your child’s social security number or date of birth unless it’s necessary. You can keep their records in a safe at home or in bank deposit boxes. Avoid posting personal information about your children online.
- Understand the potential sources of identity theft. It’s easy to assume that an anonymous, cold-hearted criminal can steal your child’s identity. However, this isn’t always the case for these types of crimes. Parents are often shocked to learn that their close friends and family can be responsible for child identity theft. Close friends and family have easier access to your child’s personal financial information. They may not think about the long-term consequences and damage they create for the child.
- Check your children’s credit reports. It’s important to start checking your children’s reports at an early age. It’s possible for thieves to steal identities from babies and toddlers. You don’t want to wait to discover a credit mess on your child’s report. The sooner identity theft is discovered, the easier it will be to repair the damage. You may even be able to trace who is responsible for it. Check credit reports from all three of the major bureaus every year (do this for yourself too!).
- Sign up for credit freeze options. You can freeze your child’s credit to avoid identity theft. New York State law allows you to freeze your (or your child’s) credit files so they cannot be viewed without a special PIN. The PIN is another level of security in addition to a social security number. You can lift the freeze, and your child’s credit won’t be affected.
- Pay attention to your child’s school forms. Is your child’s school asking for too much personal information? Data breaches, hacks, and scammers can affect schools. Your child’s identity can be compromised if the school records are. Pay attention to school directories. They can include names, photos, addresses, dates of birth, and other data. You can opt out of sharing such personal information.
Child identity theft is increasing and becoming a bigger issue. Follow these steps to help keep your child’s identity safe.