(Ping! Zine Issue 63) – Whether you are enrolling your kindergartener in school for the first time, equipping your middle school child with his first smartphone or sending your daughter to high school with a debit card, it’s important during the back-to-school season to be vigilant about safeguarding your children’s identities.
Back-to-school brings reams of paperwork, from after-school program forms to sports team physicals to school registration documents. The details parents provide in these forms can leave children vulnerable to identity theft, an increasingly serious problem that might not be discovered until a child applies for credit as a young adult.
A 2012 study by Javelin Strategy and Research found that at least 2.5 percent of U.S. households with children under age 18 experienced child identity fraud. Researchers also concluded that child identity theft is under-reported, because the crime may not come to light until the child is older.
Identity protection experts at Equifax urge parents to ask questions before handing over their child’s personal information.
“It’s important to ask why an organization needs your child’s full name, date of birth and Social Security number,” said Trey Loughran, president of the Personal Solutions unit at Equifax. “This is your child’s identity — it’s something parents should not give away casually, especially as the incidence of identity theft continues to grow among Americans of all ages.”
Tips for the back-to-school season include:
Carry your child’s Social Security card, birth certificate or passport with you only when necessary.
When not in use, keep these documents locked in a safe place.
If you are asked for your child’s Social Security number, ask these three questions: Why is it needed? Isn’t there another way to identify my child? How will my child’s information be protected? Only reveal your child’s Social Security number if you have no other option.
Before providing information, ask how the school or organization stores and discards sensitive documents.
Use a cross-cut shredder to destroy documents with your child’s full name and other identifying details, including date of birth.
Teach your children the importance of protecting their personal information on social media. Children should never post their full name, address, date of birth or other details on social media sites.
Make sure your kids use passwords for their smartphones and tablets, and teach them the importance of changing passwords frequently and never sharing passwords with others.
Teach older kids with credit, debit and ATM cards to check their statements each month and be discreet when keying in PINs.
Consider a credit monitoring and identity theft protection product for your family, such as Equifax Complete(TM) Family Plan, which can help protect the identities of two adults and up to four minor children in one comprehensive plan.
For more information about the Equifax Complete Family Plan, visit www.equifax.com/family. Learn more about child identity theft in our downloadable education kit. Child monitoring is available as part of the Equifax Complete Family Plan or is available to existing Equifax subscription customers.
About: Equifax Personal Solutions empowers consumers with the confidence and control to be their financial best. Find out more about Equifax’s innovative suite of credit monitoring and identity protection products at www.equifax.com. Learn about identity theft and how to help protect yourself and your family at IdentityProtection.com. Get smart information on everything from credit to retirement, all in one place at the Equifax Finance Blog, blog.equifax.com.
Equifax is a global leader in consumer, commercial and workforce information solutions, providing businesses of all sizes and consumers with information they can trust. We organize and assimilate data on more than 500 million consumers and 81 million businesses worldwide, and use advanced analytics and proprietary technology to create and deliver customized insights that enrich both the performance of businesses and the lives of consumers.
Headquartered in Atlanta, Equifax operates or has investments in 18 countries and is a member of Standard & Poor’s (S&P) 500(R) Index. Its common stock is traded on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) under the symbol EFX. For more information, please visit www.equifax.com.