Registration forms, health records, activity sign-up sheets, etc. – going back to school generates a lot of paperwork for families, well before the homework begins. With so many forms and so much personal information moving back and forth between your home and schools, identity theft protection measures are everyone’s responsibility.
Incidents of child identity theft continue to grow. According to the most recent Child Identity Fraud Report from the Identity Theft Assistance Center,of the American households with minors at home surveyed, 2.5 percent experienced identity fraud at some point in the child’s lifetime. Children are attractive targets for identity thieves because of their clean credit history and the fact that they are unlikely to discover fraudulent accounts fora long time – until they need to establish credit accounts, which usually doesn’t happen until their late teens or early 20’s.
Taking the following steps can help you minimize the risk of your child’s important information going astray:
- Discuss with your children the importance of keeping personal information, including their Social Security numbers (if they know it), safe and private. Teach them when it is and isn’t appropriate to share their full names, phone number, address and other personal information with others.
- Before you share sensitive identifying information on a form, be sure you know how the information and form will be used and stored, and who will have access to it. You may feel more comfortable omitting certain sensitive details, such as your child’s social security number, and only providing it over the phone if absolutely necessary.
- Send forms to school in a sealed envelope with your child’s name and teacher’s name and grade on the outside. For critical and sensitive items, establish a “chain of custody”. Let the teacher know the night before that the form is on its way, and follow up to be sure the child delivered it to the teacher.
- Be alert for red flags, such as credit card offers in your child’s name or calls from bill collectors. Communications like these, for a child, are a sign that their personal information may have already been compromised.
Back-to-school tasks include documenting a lot of information that identity thieves treasure, such as names, addresses and even Social Security numbers. It’s important to take all precautions possible when sharing your child’s personal information to help ensure their clean credit history.For parents looking to for added security, AAA offers identity monitoring to members with enrollment in ProtectMyID®, a provider of identity theft detection, protection and fraud resolution.