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News & Info

Protecting Your Child from Identity Theft

Jun 17 2014

Protecting Your Child from Identity Theft

Written by -Jason C. Henbest, Esq. and Brittany Saxton

For residents and visitors at the Jersey Shore area, summer is synonymous with sun, surf, and shopping. And for teens, especially, being away from school presents more time to spend on social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest. But for parents here in Barnegat, Forked River, Lacey Township, and Manahawkin, these activities present a new concern for their children’s safety.

The dangers of posting information online are well known and documented, and as parents, we know to make sure that our kids are not opening themselves up to physical harm or to cyber-bullying. How many of us, though, are monitoring our kids’ credit reports? Identity thieves are always on the prowl, seeking identities with clean credit records, and kids are the perfect targets. Children have rarely done anything in their lives yet to truly use their Social Security numbers; they do not have a credit history and do not monitor their credit.

The same safeguards that help you protect your identity, though, can help you protect your child’s:

Be cautious about sharing your child’s SSN.
Check your child’s credit report by or before their 16th birthday. Ask for a manual search of the files, and update them.
Monitor your child’s overall online activity.
Educate your child about “phishing” emails and online websites that make personal information a requirement.
Move your and your children’s electronic records to a password-safe location, and keep paper records in a lock-safe location.
Always shred documents that contain personal information.
Subscribe to a credit monitoring service such as Equifax, Experian, or TransUnion that reports when your child’s credit seems to be misused for bank and credit card accounts, or loan and utility services.
Pay attention to the annual notice your child’s school mails home that explains your rights under the federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). Verify that school and medical records are kept on file in a safe location.
If you have taken these preventative measures and find that your child’s SSN has been misused, you can contact any credit representative company, place a fraud alert, and file a fraud report. You should also contact the businesses where your child’s information was misused.

Ultimately, consult your lawyer with any questions regarding the utmost safety of your child’s credit protection. In this technological age, it is better to understand the risk this poses for your family via your attorney, and prevent children’s identity theft before it occurs.