On the occasion of Mother’s Day, I thought of dealing with an important topic for mothers – How to protect their children’s identity. Unknowingly we often give out certain information to people, which the fraudsters use for their own financial gain. Unquestionably, the best way to deal with this is to take necessary precautions in order to protect your child’s identity. Go through this article to know how you’ll come to know that your child’s identity has been misused and most importantly, how to protect your children’s identity.
How you’ll know that your child’s personal information has been stolen
These are signs that your child’s personal information is being misused.
- You get a notice from IRS that your child’s SSN has been used on another tax return
- IRS notifies you that your child hasn’t paid income taxes
- You don’t get government benefits as its being paid to another account that uses your child’s SSN
- Receive collection calls or products/services bills that you didn’t opt for or received
- A credit report is already generated in your son/daughter’s name
How you can protect your child’s identity from being stolen
Here are a few precautionary measures you should take right from the time your child is born.
Keep important documents in a safe place under lock and key
Anything that can be used as identification should be kept under lock and key.
This includes your child’s:
- Birth certificate
- Social Security Card
- Other important documents
Whenever you need to carry these documents, make sure you double-check that you bring them back home. And, it is advisable to not carry your child’s Social Security card. Always keep it at home. Write down the number in a piece of paper with some extra digits. Only you should know about the combination of the digits for the actual number. No one should be able to guess that.
Always cross-shred personal identification documents before disposing
It is better to make copies of important documents, instead of carrying the original ones everywhere. When you need to dispose these personal documents, put your papers in a shredder. Then, dispose the papers; otherwise, someone can use the information from the disposed papers for their financial gain.
Do not post pictures of children online
Nowadays, most of the digital cameras have geocoding features which embed within images the locations where the pictures are taken. So, anyone can come to know the residential zone of your child. The fraudsters can use this information to steal your children’s identities.
Enquire if any business asks for your children’s SSN
Some of the businesses can ask for your children’s Social Security Numbers instead of their birth certificates. However, whenever anyone asks for the SSN, enquire why they need them. Also do not give out your child’s personal information unless it’s absolute necessity. You should also keep a note where you’re giving out the information. It’ll help you to track the fraudsters if needed.
Do not reveal your child’s SSN to him/her till they understand the importance
It is advisable to not reveal your child’s SSN to him/her until they’re matured enough to understand its importance. This will help them to keep the information safe and secure.
Educate your children regarding safe social networking
Teach your children regarding the risks associated with social networking. So, educate your children to create strong passwords. They should also avoid clicking on taking online quiz requests and avoid accepting friend requests from strangers.
Request your children’s free credit report annually
If you request a free credit reports from each of 3 credit bureaus of your children every year, you’ll get to know whether or not any credit accounts have been opened in their name.
Keep your computer virus software up to date all the time
Most of the times, the fraudsters hack computers to steal personal information. Therefore, always update your and your children’s computers’ anti-virus software and also keep the anti-malware programs updated. It is advisable to keep your personal information in a computer which is not attached to an internet connection.
Even after all these precautions, if your child’s identity gets stolen then immediately place a fraud alert on your child’s credit report. Along with this, also file a report with the FTC online. You might have to file a police report, too, if the fraud is related to taxes or medical services.
All these precautions and reports will help keep your child’s identity safe. You can be satisfied that you’re playing the perfect role of a mother by securing your child’s financial life. This in turn, will help your child build a good credit when they grow up.