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The Resource Center Child Identity Theft & Protection The Resource Center | article

Will Your Babysitter Protect Your Child’s Identity?

Identity theft is scary no matter who it strikes, but particularly so when the victim is a child.

We’ve written before about the many steps that parents should take to protect their children from ID theft . However, it’s important to remember that you will not always be immediately available to watch the kids. Eventually, you’ll go to work, or have a date night with your significant other. When you call a babysitter, can you be sure that they are as aware of the threats to your child’s privacy?

Is your babysitter considering your child’s online privacy?

In today’s hyper connected world, this is an important question to ask. Perhaps you personally make it a rule not to post pictures or your child’s name on public social media accounts, because you know that even a small piece of information can be all a thief needs to compromise them. It’s just as critical to make sure that anyone else who cares for them follows the same rule – whether they be proud grandparents or the teenager next door.

For instance, contributor Meredith Gordon takes a hard line on this point, writing that no babysitter is allowed to take photos or video or her children without permission.

“The thought of a group of strangers liking or commenting on photos of my children made me uncomfortable and angry,” Gordon wrote. “I didn’t want my kid’s images to be fodder on someone else’s social media.”

To some parents, this may be an awkward conversation. We all know that young people are attached to both their smartphones and their social media accounts, and often post aspects of their own lives without a second thought. Similarly, many of our older relatives may not grasp the serious risks that a lack of online privacy can present. But establishing ground rules is important. Make sure babysitters know that photos or videos of your child should only be sent to you or your significant other, and should never be made public. If this is too difficult, don’t hesitate to find another babysitter.

Be proactive about securing our child’s identity

Identity theft is scary no matter who it strikes, but particularly so when the victim is a child.

Unlike most adults, children under the age of 18 typically don’t monitor their credit reports until they are old enough to start considering their own finances – such as when they buy their first car, or apply for college. This means that it is possible for a thief to abuse a young victim’s identity for years before being caught, doing damage that is extremely difficult to reverse.

Indeed, statistics suggest that thieves understand where the ripest targets are located. A study of more than 40,000 children in the U.S. conducted by Carnegie Mellon CyLab estimated that 10.2 percent have had their Social Security Number used by someone else. This suggests that children are 51 times more likely to have their identity compromised by adults, who only experience a 0.2 percent rate of theft.

Who are these thieves, and what do they want? A thief can do a lot with a stolen SSN number, from gaining employment, filing fraudulent tax returns, opening credit cards, and more. And, unfortunately, it is easier for these people to gain access to your child’s personal information than you might think.

Given the high risk of ID theft that children face, it’s important for parents to pay close attention to their kids’ credit reports from an early age. An identity theft protection service like Identity Guard can help by monitoring our child's, Social Security Number and alert you to certain activity that could be indicative of fraud, allowing you to take action.