How to Prevent: Child Identity Theft
Children are easy identity theft targets as they have no bad credit past and the fraud can run unnoticed for many years. As a parent, it is your responsibility to make sure they do not get targeted during their younger years. It’s also imperative that you teach them about the seriousness of identity theft as they get older. Here are some steps to prevent identity theft from harming your child’s identity.
40) Get child identity theft protection
There are no bulletproof ways to ensure your child is never the victim of identity theft. But, securing their identity through a child identity theft protection plan would be wise. With plans like kID Sure from Identity Guard and LifeLock Junior (review), all the right security layers are in place to keep a thief at bay. If anything bad happens, you can sleep easy knowing the service provider will take financial liability.
41) Dispose or lock up their mail
Over the years, there will be many different pieces of paperwork about your child that will show up in the mail. Some will be important to keep, while other documents you will be able to shred. Make sure you don’t just stow everything away in a ‘miscellaneous drawer’ in your kitchen.
42) Teach your child about identity theft
This is not a subject kids learn from their friends or teachers. It goes without discussing until it’s too late. You can do all the work to keep them safe when they are little, but it’s a whole new game when high school hits. Since the subject can be overwhelming at times, make sure to just cover the most important details.
43) Don’t co-sign a credit card
One of the biggest mistakes many parents make is co-signing for a credit card before their child is ready. This can have a huge financial bearing on both parties involved. It might seem like a good idea at first, but you are better off putting up the collateral for a secured card to help them get started. Especially when in college, it’s too easy for your child’s credit card to slip into the wrong hands.
44) Make a parenting agreement
If your child’s other parent is no longer living with you, it’s important that your efforts run fluent in both homes. This means you both need to have an understanding on how to protect your child’s identity. This includes consideration of many different aspects, such as where personal identifying documents get stored and what the child carries between homes.
45) Have the pre-college talk
It’s true that college students are top identity theft targets. You should talk with your child about the new risks they are exposed to once they are in college. Make sure they know to keep their dorm door locked, not to trust anyone, and preferably to keep important paperwork at home. As it’s not something your child will think about, make sure to also offer for them to keep their mailing address at home.
46) Advise on Internet safety
Many children are targeted by identity thieves through the Web. It would shock you just how easy it is for a fraudster to trick kids into giving up sensitive information online. Make sure you educate your child on what is okay, and what’s not, if they browse the Web. Also, it’s a good idea to block your child from access to P2P file sharing networks (like BitTorrent) as these are proven as tools for identity thieves.
47) Check your child’s credit report
Right now, you are probably thinking, “my child does not have a credit report?” and hopefully that’s true. Considering more than 1 in 10 children get victimized, it’s never a surprise to find out your child was targeted. By requesting a credit report, if one is presented back, you will have a good idea on whether they were victimized already. If you want sanity of mind, you can spend a few dollars a month for a children’s identity theft protection plan.
48) Never allow the theft to happen
While minors are frequently targeted by identity thieves, part of the statistic comes from parents and other relatives being the fraudsters. There have been many cases where a parent could not get a phone or utility in their name, so they stole their child’s identity to make it happen. This is something you should never do yourself, and it’s also something you should never permit others around you to do.
49) Always emphasize on password security
It’s obvious that your child will be connected to the online world at some point. Whether that happened already or not, make sure you explain password security to them. But, don’t just focus on the importance of a hard-to-guess password. There are many security loopholes an intruder could use. For example, it’s easy to find the answer to “What’s your mother’s hometown?” so it’s a problematic security question for them to use.