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How to Protect Your Child from Identity Theft

Over the past 10 years, incidences of child identity theft have increased substantially. In fact, cyber-criminal specifically target the identities of children because it usually takes more time for these crimes to be discovered.
Unfortunately, having your identity stolen as a child typically makes things difficult for a young adult. For example, they'll likely experience issues when applying for loans for colleges. Employers and landlords often take a look at credit reports. Therefore, it is important to be aware of this problem, so you can take the appropriate measures to protect your child from identity theft.

Lock Up Documents

The first thing one should do to protect their child from identity theft is lock up his or her important documents in a safe place. Some of these important documents should include the birth certificate, the social security card, and a passport, if your child happens to have one. In fact, anything that could possibly be used as identification should be stored in a safe place.
Whenever you use these documents to prove your child's identity, ensure that you remember to take them back home with you. As soon as you get home, return the documents to their safe storage place.

Guard the SSN

In the United States, incidences where you are asked for your child's social security number are going to be far more common than incidences where you are asked for his or her birth certificate. Most businesses, such as doctor's offices and hospitals, still utilize social security numbers to identify. However, despite this fact, whenever a business asks for your child's social security number, you should inquire on why they need it.
Make sure you keep a record of the businesses that have your child's social security number. That way, if in the unfortunate case your child's identity is stolen, you know exactly where to start your investigation.
A simple list is all that you need and it should be kept with your child's birth certificate and social security number documents. Just make sure that you remember to update the list each time you share the number with an authority.

Learn to Say No

In all cases, you should refuse to give out your child's social security number and birth certificate unless it is absolutely and utterly necessary. The only time your child's social security number should be given out is for professional purposes, such as applying for a passport, enrolling your child in school, applying for a driver's license, and opening a financial account. 
Make sure you demand official identification as well as a good reason for sharing it if you receive a request for your child's social security number from a organization or individual you wouldn't expect. Always be skeptical whenever you're asked for your child's social security number when there doesn't seem to be a need for it, for example, when it comes to church groups and summer camps.

Ensure Confidentiality

Make sure that any institutions that have your child's social security number or birth certificate handle it with care. Sports teams often ask for a birth certificate when signing up. Other clubs and associations may also request to see your child's birth certificate. However, you need to ask questions to make sure the organization will handle the information in a confidential manner.
Make sure you take the time to ask how the information is stored. Find out what format the information is in and any safeguards put in place to protect the stored information. You should also inquire on how the organization plans to get rid of the information once they no longer have any use for it. Don't accept anything other than proper shredding or return of all copies or originals. Know that proper shredding entails cross-shedding the documents with other information.

Check Your Child's Records

One reason why so many child identity thefts go undetected is because many parents don't even know that their child has an earnings report or credit report. By requesting these reports regularly, you'll be able to catch identity theft very quickly and hopefully before too much damage is done.
Every year, request your child's Social Security Earnings record. This is the record that is most vital to keep track of because it will tell you if someone tried to get a job with your child's Social Security.
Along with your child's Social Security Earnings record, you should ask for your child's credit report every year. You should request a free report annually from Transunion, Experian, and Equifax, the three main credit reporting companies. 
However, you should realize that credit agencies only start a credit history for an individual when certain details are utilized to make a credit account. Some of this information can include address, name, age, and Social security number. You should also keep in mind that this check may not inform you of abuse, as birth dates and names could have been changed. Therefore, you should check your child's Social Security Earnings record first and foremost.

Educate Your Child

It is vital that your educate your child about safe Internet use in order to keep him or her safe from identity thieves. You need to teach them to keep all of their personal information private when it comes to being online. This is especially true if your child tends to frequent social network media websites. Your child needs to know that these websites are havens for thieves, as children are liable to innocently giving out information to strangers if they haven't been taught not to do so.

Protect Your Computer

In many cases, identity theft occurs due to cyber-attacks in which information is stolen from hacked computers. Therefore, you want to make sure that your computer always has anti-virus software and anti-malware software that are up-to-date.
In fact, you should strongly consider not keeping anything that may identify your child in any way on a computer that is able to access the Internet. If you truly want to keep the information in electronic form, you should store the information on a standalone computer that doesn't have access to the Internet.
Also, you should avoid posting images of your child on the Internet. There are so many reasons why you shouldn't post pictures of your child, especially if geo-coding gives away your child's residence.
As you can see, there are many ways to protect your child from identity thieves. While it is impossible to completely eliminate the possibility of child identity theft, you can utilize these methods to reduce the chance of such a crime occurring.

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Alice Bryant's picture

Alice Bryant is the Editor of Creditnet and a personal finance expert with over a decade of experience writing about credit cards, credit scores, debt repair, and more.

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