As a parent, nothing is more important than keeping your child safe. In addition to teaching them about stranger danger, how to cross the street safely and wearing a bike helmet, you also need to teach them to protect their personal information. Most parents and guardians wouldn’t expect their minor children to have credit reports, and as a result, are not likely to check it. A thief who uses a child’s information may use it for years before the crime is discovered.
- Keep documents that show a child’s personal information safely locked up.
- Share your child’s social security number only when you know and trust the other party. Ask why it is needed, what it will be used for, and how the information will be secured.
- Before sharing information online, make sure that you have a secure connection. There will usually be a lock icon in the address bar and a URL that begins with “https.”
- Only use computers with updated antivirus and firewall protection.
- Limit the chances that your child’s information will be stolen or misused at school. Find out who has access to your child’s personal information and read the notices that schools are required to send explaining your rights under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). That law protects the privacy of student education records, and gives you the right to opt out of the release of information to third parties.
- Safely dispose of personal information by shredding paper documents and removing personal information from computers, cell phones and other electronic devices before disposing of them.
- Teach your kids about privacy issues, online security and sharing information online.
The FTC also recommends that you may want to check whether your child has a credit report close to the child’s 16th birthday, which is probably before the child will apply for a tuition or car loan, apartment or job. If you find a report with errors, you will have time to work on correcting them before your child needs credit.
Contact each of the three credit reporting agencies and ask them to search to see if your child has a credit report. They will check for records related to your child’s name and Social Security number, and also for files related only to the Social Security number. You will be required to provide proof that you are the child’s parent or legal guardian.