You’ve probably heard about the Anthem security breach that compromised the personal information of 80 million employees and customers. But are you aware of all the consequences of the breach? If your family is on an Anthem healthcare plan, then your children could become victims of identity theft without even realizing it.
Children, surprisingly, are prime targets of identity theft. This is because they don’t yet have a credit report that they can check for foreign activity, and they aren’t applying for loans or mortgages. This means that they won’t be alerted to the existence a crime. In fact, individuals often find out their credit has been used fraudulently throughout their childhoods only once they apply for and are denied college loans.
So what can you do to protect your child’s identity?
- Ask before you give their Socials: Hospitals and schools will sometimes ask for your children’s Social Security numbers when they’re not really necessary. Don’t be afraid to ask why an organization needs the information they’re asking for. If they really do need that data, then inquire about their security practices and how they plan on keeping your children’s identities safe.
- Check your children’s credit report: Your children shouldn’t have credit reports, because they have no history of credit yet. If you check for their report and find it, this almost certainly means they have been the victim of a crime. Alert the credit bureau immediately that your child is a minor and shouldn’t have a file on record. The Federal Trade Commission recommends you check for a report near your child’s sixteenth birthday, because this will give you time to straighten out any theft that might have occurred before your child is a legal adult.
- Keep their documents safe: Before they’re able to hold onto their identifying documents themselves, it’s important to store your children’s paperwork in a safe place. Try stowing birth certificates, Social Security cards and passports in a locked personal safe at your home.
- Pay attention to directories: Your children probably bring home forms from school about how much identifying information can be shared about them in the directory. Take some time to go over the options and decide as a family how much you’re willing to share.
- Teach them good habits: Build secure habits in your children from an early age, so they’ll be fully prepared when they enter the world as an adult. Explain to them the importance of keeping some information private. Children often don’t understand that even information like their birthdays, address and pets’ names could leave them vulnerable to theft.
- Enroll them in an identity monitoring service: Just as you monitor your own identity and changes to your information, there are child identity theft monitoring services that can help you monitor your children as well. The sooner you detect the activity, the easier it is to resolve.
It’s easy to forget that children can be the victims of identity theft too, but taking these precautions could save them months of hassle and stress down the road. We protect our children in every other way, so it only makes sense to protect their right to privacy and a clean credit record. Showing your kids how to protect themselves now will also help to make them more responsible, secure adults.