Children and teens are attractive targets for identity thieves; learn how to keep your child’s identity safe.
You’re aware of the dangers of identity theft—and the hassle of trying to clear your name and credit should you ever become a victim. So you’ve taken steps to protect yourself. But what about your children? Identity theft among teens and children is growing faster than any other age group. They have clean credit records and crimes against their identity often aren’t discovered for years, making them attractive targets to thieves.
There are many ways for thieves to obtain your child’s personal information: online sites, medical records, applications and paperwork for extracurricular activities and schools. But there are steps you can take, and protections in place, to help keep your child’s personal information secure.
Talk with your child about online safety and how to be secure online, such as creating strong passwords and limiting shared information. Keep the computer in a central location and set parental controls. And be sure you know which websites your child visits.
Review all Explanation of Benefits statements you receive from your health insurance company in your child’s name. If you see a service listed that your child did not receive, contact the medical provider, ask for copies of the medical records and ask to have all charges for services not related to your child removed from their record. Also ask your provide to flag your child’s record for possible future fraudulent charges.
Read the privacy policies of organizations that run extracurricular activities your child may be involved in, such as sports or music programs. Understand what personal information is required of your child, how that information will be used and shared, and how you can limit your child’s exposure. Also ask if your child will be featured in a directory of participants, and what information will be included in that directory.
These are prime sources for your child’s personal information. You’ll be asked to fill out form after form, all requesting personal information of your child—their social security number, home address and phone number, and other information. The federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) protects the privacy of your child’s education records, and provides you with the right to opt-out of sharing some of your child’s personal information.
The Federal Trade Commission suggests you take these steps to help keep your child’s information secure:
- Verify that your child’s records are secure and who has access to them.
- Find out how your child’s information will be used, and when you can opt-out of providing information.
- Ask your child’s school to view surveys and instructional materials before they are distributed to your child.
- Review your rights to keep your child’s personal information out of the school directory.
Also be aware of the rights that FERPA provides parents, including your right to review your child’s education records and ask your school to correct errors in your child’s records.
- Help Your Kids Stay Safe Online
- Preventing Bullying at School
- Choosing a School: First Steps
- Choosing a School: Explore Your Options
- Choosing a School: How to Evaluate
- Dept. of Education Guide to Choosing a School
- Parents Page at Dept of Education