Protecting your child from identity theft is even simpler than protecting yourself. With a few basic precautions, your child can be assured at age 18, a clean credit slate will await.
1. Keep it a secret!
Do not have the child’s full name printed in the birth announcement. Make sure the hospital announcement also does not include the middle names of the parents or the birthplace of either parent.
Identity thieves will often trawl newspapers for names of infants. Within three months of getting the name, they will apply for a replacement social security card for the child. Once they receive it, thieves are off to the proverbial races racking up debt in the child’s name. Although this method proves difficult for the thieves, one success in fifty tries makes it worthwhile.
2. No copies allowed.
Do not copy your child’s social security card or birth certificate. Never scan either of these documents and store them on your computer’s hard drive. Worm thieves can get these documents while you surf the Internet.
If someone needs to see the card or the certificate, bring it in person. Do not allow them to copy the documents either. Most states have laws prohibiting the unauthorized copying of birth records.
Federal law prohibits the copying of a Social Security card under any circumstance. Inform whoever believes they need a copy they may not have one.
3. Carry Permit
Do not carry your child’s identification in your wallet. Purse snatchers and pick pockets sell the identification to identity thieves. If you are going to a place where you will need your child’s identification, transport it in the glove compartment and walk it inside in an envelope.
4. Lock it up.
Store all of your child’s identification in a fireproof box in your home. Home invasion theft of fireboxes is on a decline in the United States. To lower your risk, place the box in a kitchen, bathroom or utility room cabinet where a thief is unlike to look for anything of value to steal.
5. Why do you ask?
Do not give out your child’s Social Security number without knowing in advance:
- Why you must supply the number
- How the number will be protected
- When will the record of the number be destroyed
- How many people will have access to the number
- If a non-disclosure agreement applies to those with access
- How will you be notified in the event of an information breach
- How breaches are handled
If you feel this is a legitimate need, and they have answered your questions sufficiently, you may transmit the information verbally.
Not so fast!
Be aware health insurance companies and doctor’s offices prefer to have the social security number of the patient. Doctors collect this information to report non-payment only. You do not have to give your child’s number to either. As the responsible party for the transaction, they may use yours to record any payment issues.
Most medical non-payment reporting is done on a patient basis. If the doctor’s office has your child’s Social Security number, the likelihood your child’s credit score may suffer for any late payment you may make is more than tripled.
You have the ability to help secure your child from identity theft. Don’t be afraid to exercise your rights.
How do you protect your child’s identity?
(c) Ann Marie Dwyer 2011
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