I have five children. Each at a different stage in their lives. As a parent, I have done what I can to protect my children from dangers that lurk in the world in which we live. As part of raising my children, I have taught my children to be careful in the decisions that they make and with whom they choose to associate.
As I reflected on the precautions I have taken to protect my children, I realized that I, like so many others, have not thought that my children could be the victims of identity theft. As victims of identity theft, my children may lose opportunities for needed credit when they reach adulthood. These opportunities that could be missed include auto loans, home loans, insurance and even employment. With this in mind, it is so important you and I take steps to protect our children and their good names from the identity thieves who are all too willing to compromise our children’s financial futures for their own criminal motives.
As you know, your child’s personal information (including social security numbers) could be required by different institutions in order to receive benefits or services. For example, in order to register for public school, you may need to provide your child’s personal identifying information— including a social security number. The same may be true in relation to application for public benefits, a state driver’s license or to receive medical services.
In order to protect your child’s personal information, you should know the institutions where that personal information is held. You should also know the policies that these institutions use to protect this information, how this information is stored and who has access to this information. If you receive written correspondence with your child’s personal information on it, take precautions to store it in a safe place (if it is needed at a later time) or shred it if the correspondence is going to be discarded. If your child’s information is shared and stored electronically at your home, make sure your home network is protected by password, encryption and security software.
If you receive notice that a security breach has occurred or you suspect that your child has been the victim of identity theft — for example, your child receives a notice from the IRS that they have failed to file their taxes — you can take steps to mitigate the damage done to your child’s credit history. You can attempt to procure a credit report through www.annualcreditreport.com or the three main credit bureaus. If the report exists, carefully review it and note the listings on the report. If identity theft has occurred, call the local police and make a report. Contact the three main credit bureaus and request that these items be removed from the credit report. At this time, it is also wise to place a fraud alert on your child’s credit report. Contact the vendors listed on your child’s credit report and let them know that your child has been a victim of identity theft.
We do the best to ensure the safety of our children. Let’s do our best to ensure our children’s financial future.