According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), anyone’s Social Security number can be used to open bank accounts, lines of credit, or it can be used to apply for loans. Many of the warning signs that a family might see is if the IRS asks that the child pay the taxes they owe from income or if bill collectors keep on contacting the family for the child. There are a few tips a family can follow to make sure that their child’s personal information does not fall into the hands of other people.
The first step is to make sure all personal information regarding the child is in a safe place. All paper files that may have Social Security numbers, or other pertinent information, should be locked away and stored in a secure place. All paper files need to be either stored adequately in a protected location or they should be shredded and disposed of.
Another step is to be vigilant about any forms related to the child. Many of the forms could come from day-care facilities, doctor offices, or school. The forms need to come from the trusted party and not some stranger. For example, if the school sends a letter in the mail about the child’s personal information, verify with the school that they need this information. If there is not a valid reason for needing this kind of information, simply refuse to comply. Some activities or organizations should not, at all, need a child’s Social Security number. For example, if the child is joining a sports team, there is no reason at all the sports team needs the child’s personal information.
With an older child that begins to use the internet, it is very important to educate them to not provide such vital information online. As the child grows to expand their mind, there may be opportunities for hackers or solicitors online to ask the child for their Social Security number. Properly educating the child on what not to do online can help them not share such personal information.
Finally, the FTC recommends that the parent perform regular credit checks on the child, especially if there are concerns over the child’s identity being stolen. One of the best ages to do this is at 16. That is because there is plenty of time to correct with the IRS or with a bank any error or fraud from the child’s identity before important life steps, like a car loan or college tuition, needs to be applied for. Following these steps can help any family protect their child from major identity risk issues.