With the back to school season here, and the new school year starting up already for some, or just around the corner for others, parents need to be aware of their children's safety. From sending them on the school bus or with friends to get to school, to protecting their child's futures by protecting their identity. I know that right now, most of us have all of the anxieties and concerns for the new school year on our minds. We might be thinking about expenses that come along with the new school year, what we think about our kids new teachers as well as when the sports and other extracurricular activities will start. With all of that, also comes the fact that we send our kids to school with personal information on sign up sheets, medical information forms, and other papers that the schools may require. Now, we know that there are busy schedules for everyone, especially with the kids in school, so we tend to trust that our kids get that paperwork to the proper adults, and that the paperwork does not get lost in the backpack or on the way to school. Many parents might not think it to be a big deal, but this is the time of year that identity thieves seek out children as targets. For a parent or caregiver, we might not think of there being identity predators out there, prowling on children, but there are. Just in 2011, there were 19,000 cases of child identity theft reported to the Federal Trade Commission, that is a huge increase compared to the 6,000 cases that were reported in 2003. The thing is, with kids, most of us do not have fraud alerts set up for our kids, so when a crime against a child's identity takes place, it can take up to 334 days to detect it. For me, well that is very scary. I mean, my kids are just kids, they are innocent, and for someone to go after them when it comes to their identity, well protective mom mode kicks in. It would make me sick, and to know that 27% of the cases of identity theft against children involves a family member or a friend, well that makes me very uneasy. They say that 1 in 40 households with children under the age of 18 had experienced a case of child identity theft. That is very discerning, and if it was not enough that we as adults have to watch the thieves on our own credit, we now have to really keep an eye on our kids, since they have become easy targets. You may be asking yourself, as I was, what can I do to protect my kids from identity theft? Well, I had that question answered for me and I was put more at ease knowing that I can protect my kids from identity thieves. The people from TransUnion know all to well that identity theft can turn a persons world upside down, and they also know that they nor do parents want something like that to happen to our children. So, they have shared some very helpful tips with me that I am going to share with my readers. First, you need to be mindful of the personal information that your child is carrying. Not only is it a good idea to have your child memorize their own personal information, but also, make sure their information is kept in a safe place, and not in the bottom of a bag somewhere. Teach and remind your kids to not give out their personal information, unless it is to a teacher or to someone they know and trust. Also, instead of sending important papers with your kids to school, hand deliver it yourself, so that you can ensure the papers were given to who they needed to get to. Think about it, there are medical records or papers from the Dr that a coach might need, which may contain your child's social security number, keep those safe, and consider delivering those to the proper recipient yourself. Aside from the precautions you can take to help keep your child's identity safe, look for some of the warning signs, which include any mail that may be addressed to your child from a credit company, like pre-approved credit cards or credit lines. Or, say if you want to open an account for your kids at the bank, and they say they have another account or they are denied due to poor credit, then those are also signs that your child has been a target of identity theft. If you think your child may have been a target, TransUnion is there to help you. You as a parent can complete the secure Child Identity Theft Inquiry Form. From there, the people from TransUnion can investigate any potential credit files in your child's name using the information you provide them. Once they have completed this investigation, they will let you know by responding to the email you provide them. Now, if there are files found, TransUnion will ask the parents for any additional information they may need in order to protect the child from any impact associated with the fraudulent activity they may come across. I find this service to be one that every parent and caregiver should be aware of, and after knowing the facts about child identity theft, I also find it to be the responsibility of parents and caregivers to educate themselves and their kids in order to keep their identity safe from predators.
This is a sponsored post, I was paid for this post. All opinions are my own. Thank you to the PR company for sponsoring this post!