As parents, the safety of our little ones is important. We put time and effort into teaching them how to be safe. For example “Don’t talk to strangers.” We don’t teach them to protect their identities. We don’t even consider them at risk for the most part.
Most of us still consider Identity Theft a financial issue. It’s all about our credit cards and bank accounts. And our kids don’t have credit cards. And usually a parent or trusted adult is listed on that bank account so our children won’t become a victim.
Actually our children are prime targets for identity theft. I didn’t get a social security number until I was 8 years old. I wouldn’t have gotten it then, but my mother applied for mine when she applied for my older brother’s just to get it out of the way. Now our newborns are often coming home from the hospital with Social Security numbers already assigned to them.
A child has something very valuable to Identity thieves-Clean Credit. They also don’t use that credit so a thief has years and years to use the child’s information with almost no risk of discovery. Child identity theft victims may not find out until they apply for a driver’s license or for college financial aid. The activities of an Identity thief can ruin the life of a childhood victim.
As parents we need to be aware of the risk to our children and we need to teach our children about protecting their identity. Make the protection of Personally Identifying Information a family issue. Have children help with shredding documents. To get them in the habit, let them shred some of their old school papers. Always check junk mail for credit card or other offers of credit in your child’s name. Consider enrolling your child some form of Identity theft protection designed for children, like Safeguard for Minors.
The important thing is to teach them to be aware and protect their identities.