What can I do to protect my children from identity theft?

What can I do to protect my children from identity theft?

As the school year is about to begin, it’s important for parents to take steps to protect their children from identity theft, Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam said today.
Each year, more than 50,000 children in Florida become victims of identity theft, and more than $100 million is stolen from children whose identities have been compromised. Identity thieves target kids because they generally have clean credit histories, and years will pass before the crime is detected.

“Becoming a victim of identity theft is not just something that happens to adults; children comprise the fastest-growing segment of identity theft victims,” Putnam said. “Start protecting your children today from identity theft by visiting FreshFromFlorida.com for more info.”
Consumers can help protect their children from identity theft by following these tips:

· Freeze children’s credit. Florida law requires credit reporting agencies to establish and freeze a credit record for a minor upon request by a parent or guardian. By freezing a child’s credit, parents can effectively block others from using it. More info.

· Be cautious when giving out children’s Social Security numbers. If a school, youth sports team, or a medical office asks for a child’s Social Security number, question why they need it, what they will do with it and how they plan to keep it safe.

· Shred anything with children’s personal information. Shred forms, documents and mail before disposal.

· Do not carry children’s Social Security cards. To help reduce the risk for theft, leave children’s cards — and the cards of all family members — in a secure place, like a safe at home or a safe deposit box.

· Educate children about identity theft and the dangers of sharing personal data. Keep children’s sensitive documents safe and teach them the importance of keeping their Social Security card and other personal information in a secure place when they go off to college.

The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services is the state’s clearinghouse for consumer complaints, protection and information. The call center is staffed with trained analysts who can respond to questions about programs and regulations under the department’s purview, provide information on a wide variety of topics or direct callers to the appropriate government agency.

During the month of July, the department:

· Received 3,367 complaints.

· Initiated 432 investigations.

· Arrested 3 individuals.

· Provided assistance to 29,390 consumers through the 1-800-HELP-FLA hotline, online chats and emails.

· Recovered $307,086 on behalf of Florida consumers.

· Added 22,574 telephone numbers to Florida’s Do Not Call List. Currently, there are more than 804,859 numbers on the list.

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