Keep Your Kids Safe

Some tips to prevent child identity theft

You might think that children with zero digital presence are safe from scammers, but (sadly) you’d be wrong. According to a study from Javelin Strategy and Research, last year more than a million children were victims of identity theft. A vast majority of the victims were under eight years old. What makes this type of scam so brutal is that often the victims don’t even realize their identity had been stolen until they reach adulthood. And as you might guess, by that point things are truly wrecked. If you have children — no matter what age — it’s time to think seriously about protecting their identities. Here’s how to start.

Freeze and monitor. It’s a good idea to freeze your child’s credit right from the start. Yes, that means before they even start to crawl. This will prevent any new accounts getting opened in their names. Then, make it a point to check their credit regularly just as you do with your own.

Coach them. As your kids get older and start making their way online, talk to them about cyber security. Make sure they know their personal information is just that. They shouldn’t share things like birthdays, addresses, grandma’s last name, even vacation pix. And explain to them that if they ever encounter an email or person asking for their info, your kids should talk to you right away. Think of this kind of stuff like teaching your kids good hygiene. The earlier you do this, the more likely it will become an essential habit for them.

Stash documents. According to Marketwatch, in many cases of child identity theft, the thief is someone close to the family who had access to important documents, like birth certificates or Social Security cards. Prevent this by locking away all the vital paperwork you have on your child. Immediately.

Chris O'Shea

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