How to protect a foster child from ID theft
Keep yourself or someone you know safe from credit fraud
Foster kids are at greater risk for identity theft than
the general population because more people have access to their private information. Their families may be cash-strapped and view the young person's clean
credit as an easy fix to a financial problem.
Help protect yourself or a
young person you know by following these tips.
Keep personal information private
Friends don't need to know a child's Social
Security number or the mother's maiden name.
Don't disclose a youth's Social Security number
unless absolutely necessary. If someone is asking for it, ask why they need it
and what they'll do to keep it safe.
Beware of people selling fake IDs. Besides the
obvious risk of getting caught with a fake ID, the people involved can misuse
the information given to create the ID.
Keep personal information safe
Store important documents such as Social
Security cards and birth certificates in a safe place, preferably locked up -- not
on you or the child, in a wallet or backpack.
Shred unneeded documents that have personal,
financial or medical information.
Be safe online
Delete unsolicited emails that ask for personal
Use strong passwords, updated virus software and
firewalls for online accounts and computers.
Monitor what personal information children are
posting online. To ensure a website is secure, look for the lock icon in the
address bar and a URL that begins with https//.
Never store a password on a computer or allow a
site to recognize the password every time.
Check and protect
Order and review a credit report from AnnualCreditReport.com
or directly from the three credit reporting agencies, Equifax, Experian and
TransUnion. If a child is under the age of 18, a parent or guardian may have to
initiate a written request.
Check the youth's name with date of birth, and
then check the Social Security number separately. Identity thieves often use
the Social Security number with a different name and birth date.
Opt out of preapproved credit offers by going to optoutprescreen.com
or call toll free 888-5-OPT-OUT (888-567-8688).
Monitor the mail and be suspicious of
preapproved credit offers addressed to a child or teen.
After a theft
See related: Child identity theft rising quickly, report says
Report the theft to the Federal Trade Commission
at IDtheft.gov. Or call 877-IDTHEFT (877-438-4338).
Have the youth work with a trusted, financially
stable adult to clear up credit problems, preferably before they turn 18. The child
should shadow the adult to learn how to handle problems next time.
Place a fraud alert or freeze on the child's credit
reports to help prevent identity thieves from opening new accounts using that
Go directly to the businesses involved with a
copy of the birth certificate proving that the victim was underage when the credit
was taken out.
File a police report.
Teach the child what you've done wrong or right with
your own credit, and advise them on the importance of building good credit.
, Government turns spotlight on child ID theft problem
Published: August 1, 2013