By Carol Wyzinski, Esq.
There are so many opportunities for being victims of fraud. Most of us are savvy enough to know we should shred our credit card bills and anything else with identifying information on it, but have you thought about protecting your child’s identity?
Child identity theft is a fairly new problem, but it’s happening more and more. To keep your child from becoming a victim of identity theft, keep these tips in mind:
1. Don’t disclose personal information if you don’t know how it’s going to be used. Never give your child’s personal information out over the phone, through the mail or online, especially with regard to any kind of sales promotion. Never carry your child’s Social Security card or number in your purse or wallet.
If your child is old enough to use the Internet, watch what they’re doing. Social networking sites have led to an increase in the amount of personal information children are providing about themselves online. Just as you warn your child about talking to strangers, warn them about posting their home address, date of birth or phone number online.
2. Request that your bank require photo identification. This is for all transactions for your accounts or accounts in your child’s name.
3. Don’t apply for credit cards through offers received by mail. If you have opened a credit card account with your child as a joint account holder (typically a teenager), you will more than likely begin to receive credit card offers in your child’s name. If you do, don’t assume that it’s a mistake. If you receive an offer in the mail for your child, check with the three credit reporting agencies periodically to make sure that fraudulent accounts haven’t been opened in your child’s name.
4. Shred all paperwork. Just as you would shred paperwork with your information on it, shred anything with your child’s information on it. The same protections that you employ for yourself should be applied to your child.
5. Contact the Social Security Administration. Call the Social Security Administration and request an earnings report in your child’s Social Security number and name to make sure that someone isn’t out there working under your child’s identity.
If you take these steps and your research turns up fraudulent information, take the following steps to begin to correct the problem:
- Contact the Social Security Administration and advise them of the fraud
- Contact the three leading credit report agencies, TransUnion, Experian and Equifax and advise them of the problem
- File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission
Carol Wyzinski is an attorney who helps families make sure everything and everyone they love is taken care of the way they would want if anything happens to them. Her mission is to make sure that children are always with people that they know, love, and trust and not in the hands of strangers. She received her undergraduate degree from The University of California, Santa Barbara and Juris Doctorate from Ventura College of Law. She is member of WealthCounsel, a national community of top estate planning professionals committed to the highest standard of practice excellence. She holds Bar Memberships with the State Bar of California, United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit and United States Court of International Trade. She is also a member of the American Bar Association. Carol can be reached at 916-865-9921.