With a Social Security number, any thief can get a hold of a person’s identity and open lines of credit in their name. This can devastate that individual for years or decades. However, the identities we should be more concerned with are our children’s identities. Since children will not have lines of credit, banking accounts, or loans in their name, a thief can steal a child’s Social Security number without any red flags being raised until that child comes of age. If that child’s identity was stolen a decade ago and they are trying to apply for college, a car loan, their first mortgage or apartment rental application, their credit may be severely damaged and the person’s future will be devastated. Here are the ways family members and public officials can protect a child’s Social Security number and personal identity.
Secure The Social Security Number
All Social Security files related to a child should be locked in a safe or other protective unit. Only immediate family members should access to the Social Security number since there are few legal requirements to provide the Social Security number to third parties. This is especially true since most third-party organizations will have account numbers made of the child or the child is considered a beneficiary of the parent or guardian. Schools, child care facilities, or medical officers will never require the child’s Social Security number. No insurance provider for the parent or guardian needs the child’s Social Security account either. When a person, through e-mail, phone calls, or a letter, claims they need the child’s Social Security number, the parent or guardian should not provide that number to them. Government organizations and banking or financial institutions where the parent or guardian is opening an account for the child will require Social Security numbers.
Consistently Update Computer Security
Even if the physical Social Security files are placed in a safe, information related to a child could be found online. Various transactions, data filings, or financial information related to a family has become digital thanks to the internet. All families should make sure their computers are secure and have the latest anti-viral and anti-malware programs. Constantly scanning the computer and securing any browsing while on financial or government websites is necessary. Taking these steps will make sure that any information related to the child is not found by hackers, viruses, or other malicious third-parties.
Review The Child’s Credit Report Each Year
Every individual can see their credit report for free once a year. A parent or guardian should capitalize on that by asking for a credit report from the three largest credit agencies for the child each year. Every yearly report should have little to no credit activity. When there is extensive credit activity, then this is a red flag. Report this immediately to the credit bureaus and file a fraud alert file with them.
Educate The Child
If the child is old enough to understand the importance of their Social Security number, parents and guardians will need to educate the child on proper etiquette regarding that information. If a stranger ever asks them for such information, the child must know never to give that information to anyone. Also, proper internet safety and etiquette needs to be taught to the child. The child must never answer or input personal information online whether from a message board, instant message, social media, or on a malicious website. A child that knows what to do with their personal information will make sure that information does not fall into the wrong hands.