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Why Children Are A Prime Target For Identity Theft

Jan 2, 2008
As parents we most often carefully monitor our child's websites, emails, cell phone and text messages because we are concerned. Many times it is a concern for our child's safety. We worry about them being approached inappropriately online. We are concerned about sexual predators. But have we considered that our children may also be in a different kind of danger --the danger of identity theft?

Children are the perfect target for identity theft. They have a spotless credit record and because they are not using their credit it may go undetected for several years. They grow up and suddenly there discover their credit records are blemished. Can the information that we share about our children, whether it is online, to a school or medical professional allow the opportunity for identity theft?

In 2005 the Federal Trade Commission reported that over half a million children were victims of identity theft. These cases include: the use of a child's Social Security Number being used illegally for income tax purposes and obtaining credit in a child's name. It's easy enough to do; just the other day one of my own children received a credit card offer in the mail. What if that fell into the wrong hands?

How can you protect your child from identity theft? The National Cyber Security Alliance calls social networking sites "billboards in cyberspace." Would you post on a billboard your child's personal information, such a social security number? To protect your child from identity theft you can take the following steps:

Limit access to your profile, photographs, blogs and other online sources.

Limit access to your child's social security number. You can refuse to provide it to schools and medical providers. Educational or health benefits can not be denied based on keeping your information private.

Keep a safe spot in your home for important documents. This can be a lock box or file cabinet with a lock on it.

When someone request your child's SSN know the reason for doing so. Ask for copies of the bank account statement or other verifying documents if they claim that they are setting up a savings account or other investment opportunity for your child. Note, in the event a family member or friend wants to create an investment or savings fund for your child establish the account yourself and note that deposits can be made by specific individuals on the account. This keeps your child's social security number private.

Do not carry important documents in your purse.

Do not provide your children with their SSN or Birth Certificate until they are older. Destroy and/or shred any and all documents of a personal nature including credit card offers, medical claim forms (after paid) and any other document you do not need to keep. Invest in a scanner and scan the documents into your computer, save it to a disc and keep it under lock and key.

Be sure to use your computer's parental controls, including spyware and anti virus software, not only for to protect your child's information but yours also.

Ask questions and distrust any website or telephone call that asks for your child's social security number. Make sure that any request for your child's SSN is valid, relevant and necessary before providing it.

Thoroughness and vigilance are absolutely necessary to protect your child from identity theft. In most cases, identity theft to children is committed by friends or family members, however more and more instances occur as a result of information posted on the internet; whether by yourself or your child. Don't worry about what people will think of you. Those that understand will see you as a concerned parent who is being very aware of the real world and its dangers, and one not only protects their child's future financial wellbeing, but also sets the example to other parents by teaching them how to protect their children from identity theft.
About the Author
Lisa Carey is a contributing author for Identity Theft Secrets: prevention and protection. You can get tips on Identity theft protection, software, and monitoring your credit as well as learn more about the secrets used by identity thieves at the Identity Theft Secrets blog.
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