Identity theft is a major concern all over the world and adults aren’t the only ones suffering. Children are not safe either, in fact, they are more targeted than the adults. In this digital era, no one is too young to become a target. Children’s identity is more useful for fraudsters as compared to adults because of their clean credit record.
A child’s data, especially social security number is used by cyber criminal and identity thieves in synthetic Id fraud. They can use this identity to open bank accounts, apply for government benefits, loans, and utility service, rent out the place to live or issue credit cards and insurance policies. So if you think that your child is too young to be a target, that’s where you are wrong.
Prevention is Protection
The explosion of the internet and mobile devices has exposed children to the dark world. Parents are the ultimate protection of children from the outside world. It’s a parent’s responsibility to monitor their children’s activities and protect them from online attacks Children’s identities are exploited in many ways - for instance, through data breaches.
We have always heard that prevention is better than cure. The same is the case with the parents trying to protect their children from identity theft and online fraud. Child identity theft is a cultivating crime. In 2017, more than a million children were a victim of identity theft which resulted in the total loss of $2.6 billion, and $540 million was an out-of-pocket cost for parents and families of victims.
Hence, it is essential for parents to take preventive measures instead of suffering later on. Here are some tips that parents can adopt to protect their children from identity theft.
Pay attention to warning signs
The biggest mistake parents make is to ignore the warning signs that may lead to identity theft. For example, imagine coming across a credit card offer or some bill in your child’s name. There are high chances that you will let is pass considering it a computer glitch or some error.
But what if it’s not? It can be a sign that someone is misusing your child’s information for personal gains. This can lead to some severe issues for your child for example,
Your child may not receive government benefits, fraudsters may have already taken them using your child’s social security number
You may receive bills in your child name for the services and products you didn’t buy
Your child may receive notifications from the taxation department to pay income tax
Even worse, your child’s identity can be used for money laundering
Keep Your Child SSN safe
Social security number is the identity of your child. In early age, the children are not aware of the importance of SSN. Hence, it is the duty of the parents to apply for their children’s SSN and keep that information secure. A child’s social security number is the first thing that identity thieves target. Assessing that number they can create synthetic identities and use them to carry out multiple frauds.
According to a study, it is found that 60% of the child victims know identity thieves as compared to 7% of adults. Therefore, parents always need to be careful regarding sharing their child’s information. You never know who is using your child’s information and for what purpose.
Pay attention to Organizations using your Child Information
Many educational institutes require personal and sensitive information of your child at the time of admission, or sometimes after the student is enrolled. It’s your responsibility to know why your child’s information is collected and for what purpose. There are certain laws that enforce organizations to secure your child’s information and protect their identities.
For instance, the federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) - enforced by the U.S. Department of Education - require the schools to protects the privacy of student records.
So, inquiring schools and other organizations regarding your child’s data and asking them to protect the information can reduce the risk of your child’s identity theft.
Monitor your Child’s Online Activity
Children being active on social media and other online platforms is not a new thing. The explosion of smartphones has made children addictive to smartphones, whether it’s about watching videos on youtube, playing games online or using social media. Considering this fact, fraudsters and pedophiles are actively interacting with children and trying to access their information.
To save your children from the agony of these crimes, you must monitor their social media activity and have access to their credentials. It is to ensure that your child is not interacting with suspicious entities online.
To sum up, children are now the main target of identity thieves and parents are the only defense shield between a criminal and their children. It is always better to be prepared and take preventive measures instead of suffering later on. To protect children, parents have to stay vigilant and monitor their children’s activities. In this era of zero-trust, trust no one when it comes to your child.