Minors at risk of ID theft, too
Did you know that nearly 5 percent of all identity theft cases reported to the Federal Trade Commission last year were filed for children under the age of 18?
In the information age, minors — online and sharing personal information — are at a greater risk of falling victim to identity theft. What’s worse, they may not find out until years later, when they’re ready to apply for credit.
Experian, one of the three major credit bureaus, offers these tips to protect children from financial fraud:
• Educate your children about the importance of keeping personal information private. Tell them to ask your permission before giving out their Social Security number and address to anyone.
• Monitor their online activity and warn them against submitting their names, addresses, and birth dates to websites.
• Pay attention to the mail you get in your children’s names, especially credit card solicitations and bills, red flags of identity theft.
• Keep their names off mailing lists as much as possible. Use your own name instead.
• Be wary of giving their Social Security number to anyone — day care, camp, etc. — if it’s not absolutely necessary. When it is, ask why it’s needed and how it will be used.
• Don’t let the kids carry their Social Security cards. Keep them locked somewhere secure.
• Sign up for a family credit monitoring service with the credit bureaus to notify you of activity on your and your childrens’ accounts.
For more on ID theft and children’s privacy, visit the Federal Trade Commission’s site on the topic at http://ftc.gov/bcp/menus/consumer/data.shtm.