Identity theft is an ever-increasing threat to all consumers, but many don't think about the threat to their kids.
Children, teenagers and some young adults make particularly good targets because:
- They have “unblemished” credit records, or often no credit history at all.
- Once their identity is stolen, it can go undetected for months—if not years.
- They are likely to be unaware of identity theft signs.
What can parents to do protect their teens and pre-teens? Better Business Bureau serving Alaska, Oregon and Western Washington offers these tips:
- Ask questions when personal information is requested.
Schools, athletic teams, extracurricular activities and pediatric offices routinely request children's Social Security numbers or birth certificates for registration purposes. Before providing ask: Is this required? Who will have access to the information and how will it be stored? If you do not like the answers, don't provide the data.
- Securely store Social Security cards.
Don’t carry your child’s Social Security card in your wallet or purse and do not permit your teen to do so.
- Identify ID card troubles.
Advise teens to avoid listing Social Security numbers on student IDs and other forms of identification.
- Teach financial wisdom.
When a teen opens their first checking account or applies for their first credit card, discuss safeguarding checks and bank account numbers. Show them how to monitor accounts for suspicious activities. Advise teens to only carry what is absolutely necessary in wallets or purses.
- Advise of phone phonies.
Talk to teens about not giving out personal and financial information in response to phone calls, telemarketers, text messages and e-mails from unknown individuals or businesses.
- Instruct on Internet safety.
Stress the importance of not divulging personal information, phone numbers and addresses to online acquaintances through e-mails and on social networking sites. Help them review privacy settings.
- Discuss safeguarding strategies before kids leave the nest.
Talk about dorm and apartment storage and how to avoid "prying eyes" of roommates, friends and visitors.
- Check credit reports annually for free.
- Teach teens to shred unneeded personal documents.
At BBB's free Secure Your ID Day, Shred Alaska will shred up to three file boxes or grocery bags of paper per person.Saturday, July 17 in Soldotna:
10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Wells Fargo, 44552 Sterling Highway, Soldotna, AK 99669Saturday, Oct. 23 in Anchorage:
10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
for more ID theft prevention event information.