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The ABCs of back-to-school identity theft protection

When back-to-school season starts setting in, scammers and identity thieves know the young are easy targets. Here are tips to protect your kids.

By Credit.com Aug 6, 2013 2:11PM

This post comes from Raul Vargas at partner site Credit.com.


Credit.com logoParents, add this to your back-to-school to-do list: identity theft protection tips and supplies.

School lunch (© Stockbyte/SuperStock/SuperStock)It’s that hectic time of year again when you’re repeatedly asked to share your child’s personal information for school registration, sports sign-up forms and dorm move-ins.

But you may be exposing your child to fraud when you’re filling out those forms. Every year, nearly 500,000 children under the age of 18 fall victim to identity theft. Identity thieves often target kids because they have pristine credit profiles and dormant Social Security numbers.

Before providing sensitive data to schools, daycare centers, sports programs, activity clubs, doctors’ offices and libraries, ask how the information will be used, stored, disposed and accessed. You may be surprised to find that “required” information isn’t so necessary after all.

Here are some tips to protect your school-age children.

Daycare and preschool
Some organizations may ask for a Social Security number and birth date before allowing your child to participate. Always ask how crucial that information really is. They may be satisfied with a month and year for a birth date or a pediatrician’s phone number instead of a medical ID number. Don’t underestimate the power of selective forgetfulness -- “Gee, I don’t have that information with me.” Chances are, you won’t be asked for it later.

Sports
You’re sitting on the bleachers at your child’s sports practice and a clipboard of sign-up information is making its way through the stands. Do you know the parents who will see your information as it’s passed along? And who will use the information once it’s collected? Many organizations perform meticulous background checks on their staff and volunteers. Others don’t. You can’t control where that sheet of paper will end up once it reaches the end of the bleachers. If in doubt, write “Information to come” and ask after practice.

New school enrollment
Many kids need booster vaccinations for kindergarten and middle school. That may mean a trip to a new health care provider. Some doctor’s offices still ask for patients’ Social Security numbers even though they track them with some other ID number. Unless it’s needed to bill insurance, skip it.

College
Students ages 18 to 24 face the highest risk of identity theft. They often live in dorms or share apartments where others can access their belongings. Before they head back to campus, equip your college students with the right tools and habits:
  • Buy a cross-cut shredder. Shred preapproved credit offers. Dumpster-diving is an epidemic on campuses because thieves know most students throw these offers away unopened.
  • Use a safe. Lock up important papers like student loan and enrollment documents so they won’t be left lying around where anyone could see them.<
  • Review bank statements. It’s an early tip-off to identity fraud, yet only about one-third of college students balance their checkbooks.
  • Protect your computer. Even if you think you can trust your roommate, the same might not be true for the roommate’s friends or classmates. Use strong alphanumeric passwords with combinations of special characters and capitalization and update security software.
  • Use secure mail boxes for outgoing mail. Use secure U.S. Postal Service drop boxes, instead.
  • Don’t store login information on cellphones. If your phone is lost, contact your provider immediately.
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2Comments
Aug 16, 2013 7:01AM
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And what about Obama Care it will have massive infromation on all these young and the government does not even have a secure storage.  No matter for Obama he oped out of the program. 
Aug 6, 2013 9:44PM
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For the college crowd living greek or in dorms:
*Have all financial documents sent to the parents.
*Keep safety deposit box at bank for SS card, passports...........
*Encrypt cell phones, computers and tablets so your data is junk to thieves.
*Put a freeze on child's credit history thru all 3 credit bureaus so access to credit history and reviews for credit must be authorized by yourself or child. You will need to lift this credit freeze temporarily for professional job hunts, credit applications and sometimes financial aid review of credit but so worth the money as no one will lend on this SS# without your permission to unlock info.

The studio apartments are a better deal in my opinion. No interruptions to study, sleep, shower time or food. No thefts or phishing for information for identity theft. You also have access to own kitchen facilities instead of 24/7 unhealthy buffet style eatery well known for Freshman 15 Lbs. Also control own temp on thermostat and much more storage than dorm. You keep the same apartment as long as you wish without moving out of dorm every semester which can be required as soon as 4 hours after you finish your last final.

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