Can your child's identity be stolen?

June 5, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
Can your child's identity be stolen? Protect your family from identity theft with these things you need to know. Scott Mitic, CEO of TrustedID, shares this advice.

Protecting the elderly:

· Never provide personal information, such as your Social Security number or bank account details, via email. A surprising number of elderly trust solicitations both over the phone and via email. Its important to never give this information out unsolicited. Hang up or close the email and contact the business directly and verify they need this information.

· Avoid giving out your Social Security number unless it is required by a government agency, credit bureau, or legitimate, U.S.-based financial institution or employer.

· Give your insurance/Medicare number only to those who provided you with certified medical services. You do not need to provide this to anyone who is not directly responsible for your care. Avoid sharing with non-medical caretakers.

· If you need to carry your Medicare card with you, make a photocopy of it with your Social Security number removed.

· Ask your healthcare provider to describe the precautions taken to protect your private information (including your Social Security number) and ensure that only those who have true need for this information have access to it.

· Have pension and Social Security checks direct deposited into your account, rather than having a check mailed to you. These checks are typically sent out on the same day of each month, so they are easy prey for theft. Stolen checks can be easily intercepted by thieves who then use the checks-and the information on them-to commit identity theft.

Protect against other forms of identity theft:

· Parking tickets: Believe it or not, identity thieves are creating fake parking tickets to get you to send personal information and money. If you get a parking ticket and are concerned it may not be legitimate call the police department in the city/town in which you received a ticket and verify it was them. Your ticket number is unique and can be tracked.

· ATM's: A number of people have had their identity stolen by using their ATM. Identity thieves create a "false front" that look like part of the atm machine but is actually reading the information on your card for future use. Look carefully at the ATM machine, if you notice any protruding parts, or something that looks like it's been attached, it could be a problem. Avoid using that ATM and report it to your bank.

Protect against job scams:

· Don't provide any personal information other than what is required to fill out an application and for a potential employer to contact you for an interview. An employer does not need your social security number or financial account information until they are ready to present an offer. The employer may then ask for some personal information to run a background check and financial information once you are employed to set up direct deposit.

· Do your homework and make sure this is a reputable company. If you find a company you are interested in, go to their website, check the Better Business Bureau for any complaints, call your state government office and ensure they have a license to do business in your area, and check the internet for any information about the company.

· Trust your instincts, if you are uncomfortable there is a reason. If you are uncomfortable about the questions or process you are going through with a potential employer, it may not be the right situation for you.

Protecting your children:

· Avoid giving out your child's Social Security number unless necessary. Make sure that insurance companies take proper precautions with your child's information and ask your school not to use your child's Social Security number to identify him or her. If you must provide and you are not comfortable, consider making it up.

· Monitor incoming mail in your child's name. Credit card offers or debt collection notices may be red flags that your child's credit has been compromised.

· Check your childs credit report every year. Having a credit report is the first sign of possible identity theft.

· Teach your children not to give out personal information without your permission, especially on MySpace or other social networking sites. These sites are often targeted by fraudsters looking for personal information.

1. Understand the risks associated with social media. Individuals and businesses alike need to understand that sharing personal data may make them targets for online attacks. If a malicious person obtains your Social Security or business tax identification number, full name, and address, he or she may have enough information to hack into your financial records and compromise your personal information. Using information that you offer about your home, business, hobbies, interests, clients, and friends, an identity thief could impersonate a trusted friend or convince you that they have the authority to request personal or financial data.

2. Use privacy settings and common sense to avoid scammers. Most social networking sites have privacy settings allowing you to control how much of your profile is revealed to users inside and outside your network. Adjust these settings to meet your individual needs, but in general, limit the amount of personal information you post. For example, never publish your full name, Social Security number, business tax identification number, birth date, or address. Businesses should advise employees not to post any information that is not publicly available.

3. Limit your childs circle of contacts. Consider restricting access to your page to a select group of people and setting your profile to "private" to prevent uninvited members from viewing your personal information. About Scott Mitic
Scott is an accomplished entrepreneur and national expert on identity theft and consumer credit issues. As CEO of TrustedID, Scott leads the creation of innovative new solutions that effectively eliminate the most dangerous and costly forms of identity theft. Previously, Scott was Vice President of Sales & Business Development at Fair Isaac's consumer division, myFICO, where, during his tenure, he helped millions of consumers access and manage their FICO score, the gold-standard indicator of consumer credit worthiness. Previously, Scott co-founded a venture-backed online learning company and held management positions with The British Foreign Office in Hong Kong and Arthur Andersen. Scott holds an MBA from Georgetown University and a BA in Political Science from McGill University.


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