Before Your Kids Go Back to School, Learn About Child Identity Theft

31 August 2015

As the summer draws to a close and the new school year looms ahead, you probably have enough on your plate trying to get your kids ready for the year, from shopping for supplies to trying to convince them to focus on academic pursuits again after a long, lazy summer. However, there’s one more thing you should be thinking about around this time of year: child identity theft.

According to a study from Carnegie Mellon University, children in elementary through high school are a whopping 51 times more likely to have their identities stolen than their parents. Child identity theft also takes longer to discover than identity theft in any other group. College students are also more susceptible. This risk is especially pronounced at the beginning of each year, when students and their parents have to fill out forms that contain personal information the most often.

Children’s information is appealing to identity thieves because their credit records are blank, meaning that no red flags will come up when they use children’s information to apply for credit and utility accounts. Adults are more like to check their credit scores throughout the year making children especially vulnerable.

To protect your children’s information as they go back to school, here are a few steps you can take:

  • Don’t have your child carry around identity cards. Most children don’t need proof of their identity on a daily basis, and are also more likely to lose valuables like social insurance cards than adults, mainly because they don’t understand the risks. To avoid this, keep all your children’s identity information in a safe place at home and only take it out when it’s absolutely necessary.
  • Keep a list of companies and organizations that have your child’s SIN. If you must give out your child’s Social Insurance Number, be sure to keep track of which companies have it, so that if a data breach is reported you’ll remember to take action. To be particularly cautious, you can ask who has access to your child’s information and note down those names as well.
  • Don’t assume family is safe. Sadly, according to the Vancouver Sun 30 percent of child identity theft in the U.S. was committed by someone the child knew, and the Canadian statistics are likely similar. This means you shouldn’t give too much of your child’s personal information, especially their Social Insurance Number, even to family members and caretakers.
  • Monitor your child’s social media profiles. Don’t allow your child to post any personal information online, if they must have an account at all. Encourage them to use an alias instead of their real name and never to talk to anyone they don’t know in real life. Most children these days are fairly tech-savvy, but that doesn’t mean they understand the risks posed by identity theft.

To be alerted to potential fraud in your credit files, sign up for a credit monitoring service today.