Three methods to protect your children from identity theft

Three things you can do to keep your kids' identities safe

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A Hawaii couple was found guilty last year of living for decades under the names of dead kids. I hate hearing stories like this, but they don’t surprise me now that I’ve worked in tech for so long.

In 2018, 2% of identity theft cases reported to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) involved personal information of Americans 19 or younger. This shows that thieves don’t care about being caught. A lot more aren’t recorded, in part because the victims don’t find out about them until they try to get their first loan or credit card.

These thieves only need basic information about your child that is easy to find online, like their name, address, and date of birth, to get a loan or line of credit in their name once they have their Social Security number.

To make things even worse, you may not know it until it’s too late, but these common mistakes can hurt your child’s credit.

Identity thief, don’t swipe!

Here’s how to keep your child’s information safe from thieves.

Step 1: Put a hold on your child’s credit.

See what their credit score is. 

It’s good that you don’t have a credit record until you’re an adult. You know something is wrong if there is one.

You can request the credit bureaus to freeze your child’s credit. Finish this right away after getting their SSN.

From now on, keep an eye on their credit report the same way you do your own. 

Step 2: Keep their data safe.

Identity thieves can be anyone, like a family member, someone who takes payments at the doctor’s office, or even a sports teacher. Give your child’s SSN to someone you don’t trust.

Put it away: Put birth records and SSN cards in a document box that can’t catch fire, and use multifactor authentication or passwords to protect digital backups.

Be socially aware: When you post important information about your child, like their birth date or home, be careful. Oh, and don’t show any more pictures of your licenses, OK?

Step 3: Show your kid how to do things.

These kids, ages 14 and under may have grown up with the internet, but that doesn’t mean they can make good decisions like adults. Tell them about these usual pitfalls:

  • These “personality” tests are just fronts for data mining.
  • On social media or in video game chats, people you don’t know ask you questions.
  • If a child is in their teens, they probably already have an email address.
  • Giving out any information to people who are interested online.

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