With the start of a new school year comes the filling out of many different types of paperwork including: emergency contact cards, healthcare forms and registration documents. The Better Business Bureau serving Eastern Oklahoma (BBB) warns it is important to be aware that this information can be misused by the wrong individual to commit fraud.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) offers advice to parents and offers guidelines on how to decrease the possibility of your child’s identity theft. In Safeguarding Your Child’s Future, the article focuses on what the best course of action if fraud is committed.
“It is important to be aware how the information you are providing is being used and to be able to respond if identity theft occurs,” said Rick Brinkley, CEO of Better Business Bureau Serving Eastern Oklahoma. “A few simple steps can safeguard your child’s identity.”
The following tips for protecting your child’s identity are from the BBB and FTC:
- Ask about your child's school directory information policy. It varies from school to school how much information is included in the directories. It can range from name and phone number to include email, address, date of birth and photo. Under the Family Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) schools are required to notify parents or guardians about what information is included and parents have the opportunity to opt out.
- Be aware of what documents are being sent home. Before releasing any of your child’s information, find out who is able to access it and how it will be used. It is also important to confirm that all forms are stored in a secure place.
- Monitor your child’s online use. With the start of the school year, children have more reasons to look up information online. If a site requires users to register, see what kind of information it asks for and whether you’re comfortable with what is needed. If the site allows kids to post personal information, talk to your child about the risks and benefits of disclosing certain information in a public forum.
- Understand the policies of other organizations. Some children are involved in other after-school programs that are not sponsored by the school. These organizations may list photos or other information of your child’s information online and it is important to understand the policies of the organization.
- Set strict privacy settings on social networking sites. As the new school year starts, children become more active on social networking sites to stay in contact with friends after school. Social networking sites let users determine with whom they want to share information with. Talk to your child about restricting access to his or her profile to only friends or users in safe networks such as their school, clubs or church groups.
- Be ready to take action if your school’s database is breeched. If a security breech happens be ready to speak with different teachers and administrators. Keep a record of your conversations and make sure that they are using secure methods.