It can happen the minute they’re born.
You’re a parent. So it’s only natural for you to worry. And usually, it’s the basic, everyday concerns that keep us on our toes—like ensuring they’re eating right, they’re healthy and they’re doing well in school. But for most parents, especially those of young children, tweens and teenagers, the thought of someone stealing your child’s identity never even comes to mind. After all, your son or daughter is too young to have credit and likely doesn’t have much (if any) income, right?
The harsh reality is, identity thieves don’t discriminate—and stealing a child’s identity is not only easy, it’s a crime that can go undetected for many years, often until the day your child goes for their first driver’s license, applies for his or her first job, college loan or to rent their first apartment. According to a 2012 study done by Javelin Strategy and Research, 1 in 40 households with minor children (under the age 18) have at least one child whose personal information has been compromised by identity criminals. That number has likely increased over the last five years with the advent of new technologies that make it even easier for criminals to get their hands on your child’s personal information from the moment they were born.
The sad news is by the time it’s detected, there’s already been years worth of damage. Once stolen, your child’s social security number and other personal information can be used to take out loans, apply for government programs, open bank accounts and credit cards and more. There are numerous ways criminals can get their hands on your child’s personal information including:
- Doctor and dental records
- Parent’s tax returns
- Hospital records
- Savings accounts/bank statements
- Library cards
- School records and report cards
- Sports Team applications
So although you’ve already got enough to worry about, it’s crucial to be aware of and protect your child against identity theft. The good news is that there are several ways to keep his or her personal information from falling into the wrong hands. Here’s how:
Be proactive: It’s recommended that you run a credit check on your child, if not earlier, at least by their 16th birthday. If your child has a credit report, take action right away by contacting the three top credit reporting agencies (Experian, Equifax, Transunion) and ask them to freeze his or her credit. They will be also able to assist you with closing out any credit accounts that have been falsely created and used.
Shred dated & unnecessary paperwork: Old report cards, doctor’s checkup reports, bank statements and other paperwork may contain information that you want to keep, but they’re also just what thieves are looking for. Instead of keeping them (or worse, throwing them in the garbage when you’re cleaning out closets), take pictures and store these papers on a flash drive—then shred the originals.
Safeguard personal documents: There are some documents that you simply can’t throw away or shred—birth certificates, health and immunization records, etc. But if you must keep them, it’s essential that they’re stored somewhere that they’re protected. Invest in a safe or safety deposit box if you’re not comfortable with creating digital copies.
The reality is, the game has changed when it comes to protecting your child. But if you follow these tips and be vigilant about shredding documents you’ll have the peace of mind that you’ve done all you can to ensure they’re safe from identity theft.
When you’re ready, All Points Mobile Shredding can help. We provide shredding and destruction services for residents in Indian River, St Lucie, Martin, Palm Beach and Broward counties. Get in touch with us today for more information.