MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Before the kids are off to school, the last thing on most parents’ minds is worrying about having ID thieves steal their children’s personal data to take out credit cards, loans, even renting out homes all in the child’s name.
Monica Nares, while helping her two children, Grace and Demetrie, get ready for school, protecting their identity isn’t necessarily the first thing on her mind.
“It hasn’t really been a thought actually. I remember their pediatrician’s office putting it (social security number) on their initial papers and probably in their schools registration but I haven’t really put their information out there other than those two times I can think of,” said Nares a Kendall resident.
In light of recent studies though, which finds that children may be 50-times more likely to have their identity stolen than adults, perhaps parents should take their child’s identity theft more seriously.
More than 22,000 juveniles, according to last year’s Federal Trade Commission reports, had identity theft complaints.
Apparently, something parents probably don’t want to hear, the juvenile identity theft problem is going to go from bad to worse.
For a juvenile whose identity has been compromised, the problem generally comes to light once they turn 18 and enter the college years and obtain financial aid for the federal program. Victims often notice they have mortgages taken out in their name and defaults or judgments that they’ve never had any knowledge of prior to that.
Mother of three, Janelle Merritt is very careful with her daughters’ identities. Whether it’s in her doctor’s office or signing them up for school, she asks how their records are being kept and makes sure they’re locked up.
“When I look in their office it looks pretty concealed and it looks like it goes into a cabinet that’s locked so I feel a little secure in that,” said Merritt.
Merritt’s extra step in making sure her children’s records are locked up, according to the Federal Trade Commission, is the right thing to do if you want to help prevent your kids becoming victims.
It is recommended to ask schools, even daycare centers, how personal records are stored. It’s important to review school records for accuracy to see what personal information they may contain. Also opt-out of the school’s phone directory and be careful of the personal information you release to after-school activities.
According to cyber-scam experts, a popular way for scammers to target young children is through the Internet by asking kids for personal data to sign-up for free games or to access discounts.
The Dadeland mother of three said that when her children get old enough to go on the Internet, she’ll keep an even closer eye on them than before.