Each year millions of people are victims of identity theft in the United States. However what may come as a shock is the growing number of children being targeted by ID thieves.
Every year thieves steal and use children’s information to get jobs, government benefits, medical care, utilities, car loans or even a mortgage (according to the Federal Trade Commission.)
Why is my child at risk?
Children usually make for “better” targets because their credit reports go largely unchecked for extended periods of time.
As most parents and guardians assume children don’t monitor their own credit file, they also neglect to request or review their child’s credit report. Shockingly, the FTC said a victim of identity theft might not learn about it until years later when applying for a job, loan or apartment, or when a business reviews the credit file and finds fraudulent accounts.
What can I do?
You may already use paper shredders and avoid being “free” with businesses that can request this sensitive information at times, but that is only part of the big picture!
– When something seems off – Check again.
Make sure you’re entering information on company’s legitimate webpage. Links on web pages and emails can often direct you to a company’s website that seems trustworthy, but check again. A common practice is making a slight change to the web address that you trust in order to trick you in giving up the information they want. (e.g. www.irs.com and www.irs.gov are web sites belonging to two completely separate entities).
-Secure your digital world. Collecting identity information online is one of the fastest ways scammers operate. Making sure your wi-fi network is closed and encrypted keeps you one step closer to peace of mind. It is just as important to be mindful both of your computer’s and browser’s security and keep them up-to-date. Many browsers will have an icon displaying whether or not the web page you are on is secure. Get used to checking this!
-Monitor who has access to your identity. Service providers such as LifeLock®, the industry leader in identity theft protection, provide consumers with a working solution to keep their homes and identities secure. As part of Protection 1’s HomeCore security solution this is available at no charge. Perks to the system include:
- Alerts – Consumers can receive alerts whenever personal information detected in fraudulent applications for credit and/or services within their extensive network.
- Protection – LifeLock will help quickly cancel and replace the contents of a lost or stolen wallet to help stop fraudulent charges.
- Control – LifeLock warns consumers when a detected change of address is requested in their name, helping reduce their chances of mail fraud.