Parents are in the business of protecting their children.
And safeguarding your children’s information to help prevent child identity theft comes with the territory. Children’s Social Security Numbers can be used to apply for credit cards and more—and it can take years for parents to discover the fraudulent activity.
A 2011 survey from Carnegie Mellon University’s CyLab found that the rate of identity theft for children was 51 times higher than that of adults, according to a Wisconsin Public Radio story.
“Luckily, it is a very rare occurrence. However, it is definitely something all parents and guardians need to be watchful for and actively aware of in today’s society,” says Kelly Liddle, fraud specialist at Dupaco Community Credit Union’s Pennsylvania branch in Dubuque, Iowa. “Fraudsters prey on opportunity.”
You can take proactive steps to protect your children’s information—and their credit:
Never hand over your children’s personal information, including Social Security Numbers, until you have asked what it will be used for and are satisfied with the answers, Liddle says. Other questions you can ask include: What is the purpose? How are you going to protect the data? “Often, if a business or doctor’s office are asked these questions, they realize they don’t necessarily need the information,” Liddle says.
Shred old documents.
Just like you would your own, shred unnecessary documents that contain your children’s names, addresses and other personal information.
Secure important documents.
Keep your children’s Social Security cards, birth certificates and other important documents secured in a safety deposit box or a secure location in your home.
Add children to your fraud coverage.
Coverage for Dupaco’s Family ID Restoration fraud-recovery coverage extends to the spouse or domestic partner of the accountholder, dependent children under age 21 who live with the accountholder and dependent children who are full-time students. “It also can be used to keep copies of valuable documents secure in one easily accessible location,” Liddle says.
Regularly review websites and apps your child uses.
Watch for warning signs.
Know the warning signs of child identity theft, which include calls from creditors, suspicious mail and credit card applications for your children.
Contact Dupaco immediately.
If you suspect your child’s identity has been compromised, contact Dupaco immediately. “We can help with viewing a credit history and provide direction on how to dispute information with the credit bureaus,” Liddle says. “We can discuss appropriate options, such as a credit freeze and fraud alerts.” If you are enrolled in Family ID Restoration, the program’s resolution specialists also can assist you.