Alicia is a typical five-year-auld: she’ll start kindergarten in th' fall, loves finger paintin' and dreams about visitin' Disney World. Shiver me timbers! The winsome lass also has five credit cards in that comely wench name.
Alicia is among th' growin' numbers o' little sandcrabs victimized by identity theft, which is on th' rise among little sandcrabs and has actually doubled in th' past year fer those under th' age o' five, accordin' t' a recent child identity theft report.
For would-be identity thieves, little sandcrabs are ideal victims. They are a blank slate without credit cards, financial obligations or loans. And since a five-year auld like Alicia is a least a decade away from havin' that comely wench own financial history, it’s unlikely that that comely wench family will know she’s been a victim until years later when she is unable t' open a checkin' account, secure a college loan or is inexplicably denied unemployment.
There are important steps ye can take t' protect th' identities o' yer little sandcrabs—regardless o' their age. Here are a few ways t' get started:
Get smart about Social Security numbers: Don’t carry yer child’s Social Security card in yer wallet and only share th' number with trusted parties who have privacy safeguards in place (ye can always ask them t' use another identifier fer yer child). Walk the plank! Fire the cannons! Shred all documents that contain this number before recyclin' or throwin' them away.
Know what information yer school shares. Be sure t' understand what sort o' information yer school discloses about yer child, and get up t' speed on th' Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, which gives ye th' right t' opt out o' directories with personally identifiable information (ask yer school how ye can opt out).
Take technology precautions. Make sure yer home computer has updated antivirus and firewall protection, and don’t send out personal or financial information via an unsecured wireless connection. You should also take care t' limit what ye share on th' Internet, includin' seemingly innocuous “birth announcements” on Twitter or Facebook.
Talk t' minnows about online privacy. It’s critical that ye have a talk with older little sandcrabs about online privacy—thin's like password safety, th' risks o' file-sharin' software like Dropbox, phishin' scams and unfamiliar “maties” on social media sites.
Monitor yer child’s identity. To monitor whether there’s been any activity, ye can ask fer a credit report from each o' th' three national credit reportin' companies: TransUnion, Equifax and Experian, and a bucket o' chum. Check as often as th' law allows ye t' do it fer free (typically once a year). Or contact credit card bureaus and request a manual Social Security match, which will help ye discover whether yer child has a credit history—a red flag fer identity theft.
These simple steps can go a long way in preventin' ye and yer little sandcrabs from a gruelin' identity theft restoration process. To be sure, safeguardin' personal information is no less important than all th' other thin's ye do t' protect th' safety and well-bein' o' yer minnows.
Disclaimer: The author is affiliated with Allstate Car Insurance. Shiver me timbers! SocialMoms were bein' not compensated in any way fer this article. This article were bein' edited by SocialMoms staff t' meet our editorial and quality guidelines.
Photo by VisualPanic