Recently we received several phone calls at home, asking for a person who we didn't know. After several calls I asked them to stop calling and found out, I was talking to a collections agent. Someone had given out our telephone number as the primary number on their account. So this led me down the path of checking out our credit reports at annualcreditreport.com, and validating all of our accounts, I got lucky, everything was fine, but it led me to wonder, what would I do if our identity had been stolen?
I then remembered, my insurance policy included identity theft coverage. This led me to the website, where I came across a very interesting article about protecting my child's identity from thieves. The article recommended 7 steps to protecting your child's future
- Don't give out your child's Social Security number online or on the phone unless you already trust the recipient.
- Never carry your child’s Social Security card or number in a purse or wallet. Leave it at home in a secure place or in a safety deposit box.
- Teach your child that people asking for personal information such as a SSN and mother’s maiden name could be trying to defraud them.
- Thieves love recycling cross-shred documents holding personal identifying information.
- Watch out for warning signs, such as credit cards arriving in the child’s name or calls from creditors regarding current and past-due debts.
- Check your child’s credit report if you suspect identity theft. For children above the age of 13, go to annualcreditreport.com, the government-mandated source for free credit reports. For children under 13, parents and guardians must request credit reports by mail. (For more information, go to www.annualcreditreport.com.)
- The absence of an existing credit report usually means that no one is misusing your child’s information, which is good. If one exists, be sure to check for problems.
As I continued reading, I found several additional helpful articles, including tips to reduce the risk of identity theft, and answers to many of my questions.
Jacob Harris is a Vulnerability and Forensics analyst at Westfield Insurance. Sharing Knowledge. Building Trust.