Don’t treat a trickster to your child’s identity

ID-100205226BBB tips to help parents protect their children from identity thieves

Parents tend to take plenty of precautions when trick-or-treating with their child. However, it’s important to consider an aspect to their safety that isn’t always seen—their identity.This Halloween, Better Business Bureau (BBB) serving Central, Coastal, Southwest Texas and the Permian Basin wants to remind parents to begin monitoring their child’s credit report today.

Identity thieves often steal Social Security numbers, attach a different name and birth date to it, and proceed to open credit cards, secure auto loans, student loans and even home mortgages. According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), several signs can tip you off to the fact that someone is using your child’s personal information and committing fraud. For example, you or your child might:

  • be turned down for government benefits because the benefits are being paid to another account using your child’s Social Security number
  • get a notice from the IRS saying the child didn’t pay income taxes, or that the child’s Social Security number was used on another tax return
  • get collection calls or bills for products or services you didn’t receive

Children are easy targets because they typically do not start using their information until early adulthood when applying for college and search for loans or their first credit cards. That’s why it’s so important to start monitoring your child’s credit report as early as possible.

As a parent, you can protect your child’s identity by:

  • Safeguarding your child’s personal information. Keep your child’s personal information, such as his or her Social Security card, date of birth and birth certificate, in a secure spot.
  • Monitoring your child’s credit report. As soon as you get your child’s Social Security card you should start monitoring his or her report at least once a year. Request a free credit report from annualcreditreport.com.
  • Keeping anti-virus software updated. Some savvy thieves create viruses designed to search computers for documents containing your child’s personal information. Make sure your computer is continually updated with the latest anti-virus software.
  • Safely disposing of personal documents. Shred all papers that include your child’s personal information before you throw them out and delete computer files that you no longer need.

If your child’s credit report shows misused information, call each credit reporting company and alert them to the situation.