November 2, 2017. By Ashley Agnew:
A new baby blesses her family with a newfound joy and love with each smile, coo, and cry. Just over three short months ago my own family was blessed with a new addition with the birth of my daughter.
Accompanying the joy of a baby is a stream of worry and precautionary measures: corners are padded for her safety, bottle temperatures are triple checked for the perfect level of warmth, monitors are fine tuned to keep a watchful eye all hours of the night. With so much time spent focusing on the physical safety of the little one, it is easy to overlook the protection of your child’s identity.
Within three weeks of my daughter’s arrival we began receiving junk mail in her name. In other words, almost immediately after her social security number was issued, her contact information was released. Although the mailings seemed harmless, they were a good reminder that the need for identity protection has no minimum age. In fact, it is especially important to monitor the identity of children since otherwise the fraudulent activity could go undetected for many years. The Federal Trade Commission reports that identity thieves often use a child’s social security number to apply for government benefits, open bank and credit card accounts, and apply for loans or rental property; it isn’t until the child is an adult attempting to do the same that they discover their identity has been compromised. In many cases, the child is unaware until they apply for their driver’s license.
The process of monitoring a child’s identity is the same as monitoring your own:
- Check your child’s credit report at the first warning sign of compromised identity. Warning signs include unusual mail or collection calls.
- Reference our Investor Protection Checklist and cybersecurity blogs such as Protecting Yourself After the Equifax Breach to learn the latest security measures.
If you feel that your child’s identity has been compromised because of their school mishandling information, you may file a written complaint with the Family Policy Compliance Office of the U.S. Department of Education.
Finally, remember that you are not only protecting your information, but that of your entire family. Fraudsters can piece together information when families are careless in their electronic communication habits. Discuss best practices as a family to be sure everyone is using updated software, protecting passwords, and using only secure or encrypted websites to shop or enter personal information.
Thank you to all of our wonderful clients and colleagues for your overwhelming support in welcoming our newest addition.