Yes, even at a young age, your child can still be a victim of identity theft. A social security number is all someone needs to open up bank and credit accounts in your child's name. While most parents are very protective about their child's personal information, the one place that most don't realize identity theft can happen is at school.
All the records and forms that you are required to fill out for school hold a wealth of personal information about your child. If any of those forms or records are stolen or compromised, your child will be vulnerable to a variety of frauds and scams. Here's a few good guidelines on how to keep your child's personal information safe at school, via the Federal Trade Commission:
1. You have rights under the Family Educational Rights Privacy Act: It is up to the school to notify you of these rights. If they don't, ask them to provide all families with this information. They are required to under the law. These rights include the ability to look at your child's records, consent to any disclosure of the records, and the ability to fix any errors in the record. Also make sure to check that your child's records are being kept in a safe, secure place and that you know who has access to those files.
2. Make sure you are checking all materials being sent home: If any request personal information, make sure you know where that information is going. If it allows you to opt-out, consider doing so.
3. Find out what your school's directory policy is: Most schools keep a directory of students' contact information. Many times, that information can be given out to a third party without your knowledge. But you have the right to opt-out of releasing that information to anyone but the school.
4. Always be aware of what personal information your child may be giving the school: Through things such as surveys and class forms, your child may be handing over personal information about themselves you are unaware. Make sure to check with the school about their survey policy and make sure you talk with your child about what information is not ok to give out at school.
If you are looking for some added protection for your child's personal information, Identity Guard offers kID Sure, an identity theft product just for children. It searches the Internet black market, pre-credit sources (such as utility and telecommunications) and thousands of databases (including public records) to help protect your child from identity theft.
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