As parents and children shop for back-to-school savings, identity thieves may be looking for a different way to save money by stealing names, Social Security numbers and more. Children are often targets for identity thieves because they have clean lines of credit, which make them easier to use for fraudulent purposes, CBS News reported.
"It is probably much more lucrative and attractive to criminals to use a child's Social Security number, simply because they have a blank slate for credit," said Kathryn Searles, an inspector with the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, according to CBS News. "And they usually don't have a pre-existing profile in the credit reporting companies."
As parents give out their child's personal information to doctor's offices, schools and other organizations, they may want to be careful about protecting this valuable data. Searles said parents should question why they are being asked for their child's personal information and who will be able to view this information.
Employees at medical offices or even other family members and guardians may be tempted to steal a child's identity to have access to easy credit. When scammers improperly access this information, the children affected may not realize they were victims until they apply for their first credit card or auto loan.
Parents may want to check their child's credit report by contacting one of the three main credit reporting bureaus. If they see any suspicious activity, they may want to institute a credit freeze to stop thieves from opening new lines of credit.
How to Keep Information Secure During College Years
Even when children reach adulthood and head to college, the risk of identity theft is always looming. Recently, the Better Business Bureau of Western Virginia issued a warning to students going to college and their parents about the risk of identity theft since these young adults have more responsibility in protecting their information when they are on their own. College students often fill out information using sensitive information or have mail coming in that contains personal identifying data. Young adults also may be used to sharing information on social media, which could provide outsiders access to names, addresses and more.
The BBB suggests college students secure their personal information and documents by keeping them at their permanent address, such as their parents' house. Students should also deny requests for them to share their financial information or bank cards with friends.
Brett Montgomery is a fraud operations manager at IDentity Theft 911.