For any parent, back-to-school season is always a hectic time. From shopping for new clothes and school supplies, to completing a plethora of enrollment forms and applications, you may be juggling several tasks to get your child and family tuned in to a new school year. However, as parents of school-age children, be aware that this is also that time of year when your child’s identity is at maximum risk of theft. In the frenzy of filling out dozens of forms for sports teams, school programs or extra-curricular activities, you may unwittingly be handing out your little one’s sensitive information to imposters.
Advice from Your Information Management Experts in Florida
Although most of us believe that identity theft is an adult problem, children are 51 times more likely to be targeted by fraudsters. In fact, in 2017, over 1 million children in the US were victims of identity fraud, resulting in over $540 million out-of-pocket costs to the affected families.
At Crown Information Management, we are in the business of protecting physical and digital records, including safe storage and secure disposal. Our records management experts understand the loopholes that identity thieves exploit, and can help you in keeping your child’s identity safe. Read on to know how you can identify and prevent this rampant problem, and protect yourself and your young ones from potentially huge debts.
Child Identity Theft: Red Flags and Preventive Measures
If a child’s Personally Identifiable Information (PII), particularly the Social Security Number (SSN) falls into the hands of imposters, they can use this information for unlawful gains in several different ways. Since children’s SSNs are not active and they don’t have a credit history, fraudsters provide this information to:
- Apply for bank accounts, credit cards and loans
- Get cell phone connections and driver’s licenses, rent homes, set up utilities, and buy vehicles
- Receive medical care, or other government benefits
Unfortunately, this problem could go unnoticed for several years, until your children start applying for loans or credit cards of their own. So what are the red flags to look out for? How will you know if your child is already a victim?
Here are some signs you should be wary of:
- You get a denial notice for your child’s government benefit, citing that the amount is already paid into an account with a similar SSN.
- You get an IRS notification about your child owing income taxes.
- You receive a phone bill, credit card statement, unpaid traffic ticket notification, or a debt collection call in your child’s name.
- You get a jury duty summons in the name of your child.
Safeguard your child’s identity by following these simple steps.
- Periodically check for a credit report in the name of your child. Ideally, there shouldn’t be one, since your child should not have any credit history.
- Do not part with SSN or other PII unless it is absolutely essential to the forms you need to fill out. Question the source about how they will use your information, and don’t hesitate to leave out sensitive credentials if you are unsure of the authenticity.
- Be careful while making copies of important documents. Keep physical records under lock and key, and use strong passwords to protect the digital ones.
- Always shred documents that are no longer required, especially if they contain yours, or your child’s personal or confidential information.
Looking for a professional information management company for secure storage or safe disposal of your physical or digital records? Count on the experts at Crown Information Management. Call 800-979-9545 to discuss your requirements, or contact us online for a free estimate.