By Gracie Bonds Staples
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
We’re told to monitor our credit, to protect ourselves from identity theft. But who knew to apply that same wisdom to our offspring? Last year the number of identity theft victims reached 12.6 million, up 1 million from the previous year, according to a Javelin Strategy and Research Identity Fraud Report released Feb. 20, 2013.
According to the AllClear ID 2012 Child Identity Theft Report, about one in every 40 households with young children is being affected. “Child identity theft is a fast-growing crime,” said Robert Chappell, a veteran Virginia State Police Officer and author of “Child Identity Theft: What Every Parent Needs to Know.” “Criminals target children because kids have clean credit records and the theft can go undetected for years.
He said the Federal Trade Commission “consistently states that children are 6 percent of America’s victims. This means more than 700,000 children were victimized last year.” In “Child Identity Theft,” Chappell describes how thieves access personal information from everything from school and medical records to stolen wallets and the internet, what actions parents can take if a child’s identity has been compromised and preventative measures parents can take.
To discover if credit has been opened in your child’s name, he said parents should contact one of the credit rating agencies — Equifax, Experian, or TransUnion — just as they would to check their own credit history.
Here are some other tips Chappell offers in the book:
—Teach children well. Make sure they know the risks associated with giving personal information to anyone.
—Do not share. Do not put your child’s Social Security number on school, medical, insurance, and other forms.
—Keep it safe at home. Don’t carry your child’s birthdate or Social Security number in your wallet or purse.
—Don’t reveal personal information on social media. Tell your children not to place their birthdate or address on social networking sites.
—Be wary of scams. Warn children about offers they receive by phone, mail or email that could be scams.
—Get on the “Do Not Call” list. Register all your phone numbers on www.donotcall.gov or call 888-382-1222.———
©2013 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Atlanta, Ga.)