This morning there was an alarming headline on AOL.com: “Social Security Thieves Targeting Children.” Yikes! Seems like us parents have enough to worry about with the dangers we can see, but this story was a much-needed wake-up call to pay attention to those we can’t see.
Apparently there’s a market in which inactive social security numbers–like those of children–are sold to help theives establish credit and run up massive amounts of debt. Lots of parents who’ve fallen victim to this type of fraud didn’t even know their child’s information had been compromised until they tried to open a college savings account or their child applied for a state-issued ID card.
So, what can we do to protect our children? Here are some helpful tips from the Identity Theft Resource Center:
1. Guard your child’s social security information. Don’t carry his/her social security card in your wallet and be very discerning who you give your child’s social security number. According to the ITRC, strangers are not the only identity thieves–family members can steal children’s identities, too.
Consider keeping your child’s social security card and other important documents in a lockbox like this one. Have trouble remembering passcodes? This safe ($200) opens with a fingerprint sensor.
2. Do regular credit checks on your child. Contact the 3 reporting agencies–Experian, Equifax and TransUnion–to find out your child’s credit score. “If you are told that there is no credit report, that is good news,” says the ITRC. “A credit report should not exist until that child’s first credit application as an adult.”
3. Invest in a shredder. It’s important to destroy documents that contain your child’s social security information before trashing them. It may seem crazy that ID thieves are going through trash to steal identities, but just think of all the people who come in contact with your garbage before it gets to the landfill. Any one of them could have bad intentions and the last thing you want to do is make it easy for them to steal your child’s identity.
This Black and Decker shredder shreds up to 10 sheets and only costs $80.
Worried about your child’s fingers with a shredder in the house? Get this ID Blocker, which is an equally affordable alternative.
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