Children are just as easily – and possibly more – susceptible to identity theft as adults. In fact, Carnegie Mellon’s CyLab revealed that the rate of identity theft for children is 51 times higher than the rate for adults. Children are a lucrative target for identities thieves, as most children’s Social Security numbers and personal information remain unused until they turn 18 years old, leaving years for thieves to do serious damage.
While identity theft can’t be completely prevented, there are a number of precautions to help protect your children from identity theft.
Start with open communication
Talk to your children about online threats, and what could happen if their personal information falls into the wrong hands. It’s important to teach kids to protect their information. Even seemingly innocuous information (like, mother’s maiden name or birthdate) found on social sites can be used for identity theft.
Parents, be mindful
When you children’s personal information is requested, be sure to ask why it is needed, what it will be used for, and how it will be protected. Take their Social Security number, for instance. Few organizations have the right to request this information, so be mindful when giving out your child’s personal information – and your own!
Use an identity monitoring service
Use an identity monitoring service to keep an eye on your child’s Social Security number and personal information. These services can alert you to suspicious activity that may help your child avoid an identity theft, or get a jump start on the resolution process.
By following these precautions, you are taking steps to secure your child’s identity. For more information on how to manage your personal information (and that of your child’s), visit our Identity Theft Education center.