With Halloween right around the corner, it’s fun to partake in the spooky and magical fun that’s everywhere this time of year. But while the little ones are gearing up for trick-or-treating, you should be on the lookout for some creepy little tricks identity thieves have up their sleeves.
It’s a danger many parents aren’t aware of and many don’t know it exists but identity theft is becoming more of a threat to children than adults. The frightening reality is that kids don’t know to keep track of their important information and make sure it stays out of the wrong hands.
It is becoming more important now than ever to keep a close eye on what your kids, friends, relatives and even you are posting and displaying.
A study by Carnegie Mellon Cylab on child identity theft brought to light the fact that children are actually 50% more likely to be victims of identity theft than adults. This is a scary statistic but the good news is that identity theft is very preventable and there are many measures you can take to make sure that this doesn’t happen to your little one.
One of the main reasons why the kiddos may be more at risk for identity theft is the simple fact that they don’t know any better and parents don’t expect it. With reasonable measures, their risk will be lowered significantly and you can breathe easy again.
Ways To Prevent Child Identity Theft
- Be Careful What You Share
Surprisingly, it’s the parents that are the ones often unknowingly handing over the information identity thieves need. By sharing too much information (and the wrong kinds of information) about your kids online, it can make an identity thief’s life much easier. This is a simple fix because all you need to do is refrain from posting any personal information such as their full name, birth date, addresses etc.
It’s definitely okay to be proud of your little ones and post pictures and updates online for friends and family, but just be aware that others could be looking. Only post the bare minimum and leave out the important details.
- Keep Information Safe
If you don’t have a filing safe at home, it’s a good time to get one. Not only do you need it to keep your kiddo’s information safe, you’ll want it to keep your information safe as well. This is a great place to keep passports, ID’s, birth certificates, social security cards etc.
It’s easy to lose track of important information or throw away papers with sensitive information on them so either keep them in a safe or invest in a shredder to keep that information out of the wrong hands. If someone gets their hands on your child’s social security number it will make it a whole lot easier for them to commit fraud so guard that number scrupulously.
- Regularly Check Their Mail & Accounts
By being diligent about checking your kids’ mail for things like credit cards, collection letters, and medical notices can help you find out if there’s something suspicious going on. Anything unusual that shows up addressed to them is a good reason to check into their credit to see if there has been any activity. These are some of the best indicators that identity theft is underway and it’s important to take it seriously in order to put it to an end before it becomes a serious issue for your kid.
You should also be checking their social media accounts to make sure they have the right security settings and are not over sharing personal information. Kid’s may not see these things as threats so it’s your job to help them stay safe from possible identity theft attempts. Social media makes it really easy to tell everyone your personal information even if you don’t mean to do it so definitely help them create secure and safe accounts.
- Stay Educated
The world of identity theft is getting sneakier and sneakier as time goes on but online platforms and people being less organized or even forgetful about their information makes it really easy for those looking for information. Make sure you stay in the loop about what you should be protecting and how to detect identity theft. Also, educate your kids about it as soon as they are old enough. This kind of information is not usually taught in school so it’s up to you to train them to be responsible with their information for the times when you are unable to keep an eye on it.
What Can You Do If Child Identity Theft Happens?
If you suspect fraud has happened or know for sure that your child has become a victim of identity theft, be sure to immediately check to see if they have a credit report. If they have a credit report on available, you can have this frozen immediately.
If you have noticed that there may be accounts opened in your child’s name (through seeing statements or mailings), you should contact these accounts and services immediately to notify them that the accounts are fraudulent and should be put on hold or canceled.
Once you have frozen reports and accounts, you can file a report with the FTC and a police report to your local law enforcement. This way, they can open investigations on your case and hopefully find the culprit behind the identity theft so that it never happens again.
Better Safe Than Sorry
To sum it up, this is a scary situation to be in but it can be avoided with just a few basic precautions. Being careful of what you and your child post online and being diligent in regularly checking for suspicious activity in your child’s name. There are many ways to safeguard your child’s credit from the creepy crawly prying fingers of nosy criminals.
Educate yourself and your family on the dangers so that you won’t have to worry about these nasty tricks in the future.