Protect Your Children from Identity Theft

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protect children from identity theft

When we read or hear about identity theft, we naturally think about adults being the targets. After all, they have the money, right? However, identity theft statistics indicate that a rising percentage of victims are children, and when you think about it from a thief's perspective, that makes sense. After all, thieves want to be able to continue stealing for a long time. Since most children are years away from worrying about credit scores and credit reports, stealing a child's identity makes it easier for a criminal to commit fraud undetected for years.

What can you do to protect your children from identity theft? Here are some steps you can take:

  • Hide Social Security cards
    Keep your and your children's SS cards away from purses and wallets, and hide them in a secure spot in your home. That way, if your purse or wallet is lost or stolen, a thief won't have your SS information. Don't let your kids have access to their cards until they're ready for a first job and they understand the importance of protecting this information.
  • Shred sensitive information
    Shred any mail or documentation with your child's SS number and other personal information just as you shred your pre-approved credit card applications and other sensitive mail.
  • Never use your kids' SS numbers as passwords
    Social Security numbers are passports to identity theft. Once a thief has one, he can commit many different types of fraud. Use strong passwords with a mix of alphanumeric characters that will be impossible to guess.
  • Contact the Social Security Administration about your child's earnings
    Once a year, contact the SSA to request an earnings report for each child. If they're not of working age, there should not be any records of income. If there is reported income, it's probably an indication of identity theft.
  • Subscribe to an identity monitoring service
    An identity monitoring service provides many different tools to alert subscribers to suspicious activity and much more. Family plans provide the best savings and protect the whole family.
  • Monitor your child's online activities
    Pay close attention to the sites your children visit online. Lacking experience, they're easy targets for information that identity thieves need to commit crimes. Talk to your kids about identity theft, safe online surfing habits, password strength, security, and other important things to look for when online.

Protecting your kids from identity theft begins with you. Talk to your kids about your own information security habits and the importance of having them. Impress upon them that there's never a good reason to share sensitive information with strangers online or in person.

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