Child Identity Theft
Kids are attractive targets for identity theft. Take steps to protect their personal data.
According to the "Federal Trade Commission, victims age 19 and younger accounted for 8 percent of identity theft complaints in 2010. Why do identity thieves target this group?
- Children have a spotless credit history.
- Parents rarely think to check a minor's credit report.
- Fraudulent credit information is often useful for decades; the crime may not be detected until the child first applies for credit.
- Many child identity-theft cases go unreported because the thief is a parent or relative.
The most common way a child's identity falls into criminal hands is when a parent loses a wallet or purse containing the child's personal information – name, address, phone number, birth date and Social Security number.
Tips for Parents
- Lock your child's Social Security card in a safe or lockbox.
- Don't give children their Social Security numbers until they are old enough to understand how to use it safely and appropriately.
- Check your child's credit report annually. If a credit report exists, be sure to check for issues and inconsistencies. No credit report usually means there has been no misuse.
- Shred all unwanted documents that may contain any of your child's personal information.
Tips for Young Children and Teens
- Never give out personal information over the phone or online, especially if that data could pinpoint your location or identity.
- Never respond to phone, email or text requests for such information.
- Use passwords to unlock cell phones, laptops and other devices that may contain personal information.
- Never share your personal identity number (PIN).
Tips for College Students
- Never carry your Social Security card or number.
- Don't allow your school to use your Social Security number as your student ID.
- Keep anti-virus software current, and be cautious with public computers.
- Check for “shoulder surfers” when using an ATM or laptop in public.
- When setting a PIN or password, never use the last four digits of your Social Security number, your mother's maiden name, your birth date, your address, your pet's name or your middle name.
- Shred all unwanted documents that may contain any personal information.
Identity Theft Protection from American Family Insurance
The American Family Identity Theft Program includes Identity Fraud Expense Coverage, which helps cover costs associated with repairing your identity, including attorney fees, loan re-application fees and lost wages. Talk to your American Family Insurance agent today about this important coverage.