One of the fastest growing crimes in America is identity theft, with consumers reporting an incredible $1.7 billion paid out in fraud related charges and growing at a rapid pace. In 2009 the total for the year was $54,000,000,000. From the moment the theft occurs, identity theives begin to create a “new life” by opening new accounts—raking in thousands of dollars of cash and goods. Sadly, these crimes can go undetected for years. Once noticed, some victims are able to address and handle issues in an efficient manner. However, many will have to spend hundreds of dollars and valuable time trying to make their identity whole again.
And if you think that it only happens to adults, you are in for a rude awakening. Some parents may not recognize how important it is to protect their children’s social security number. Let me point out that in 1980, the Social Security Administration started a new program offering social security numbers to all children. Since then, identity theft amongst children has grown at an alarming rate.
Take a look at the study the Federal Trade Commission conducted back in 2006 stating that 5% of all reported cases were under the age of 18. So how can we as parents help protect our children’s future financial security? It starts with a few simple steps.
•Credit Reports. Don’t wait any longer. Each year, anyone with a Social Security Card may obtain their free credit reports from www.annualcrfeditreport.com. You will need to show proof you are the parent or legal guardian. Should you receive a report that “no file found,” be happy: this is good news.
• Social Security Cards. Do not allow your child to carry their social security card with them in their wallet or purse. If they are young adults applying for a job, have them call you from the where they are applying.
• Internet Usage. Set ground rules with your children. Under no circumstance should minors give any information out on the internet. Ikeepsafe.org has plenty of information on educating your children on internet safety especially when it comes to children’s personal data.
With daily reports of hackers penetrating the next database full of our data, it’s important that parents take an active role in protecting their children’s financial future by empowering youth with the necessary information to make safe and responsible decisions online. For more information regarding digital safety and security topics, click ikeepsafe.org.
————————————————————————————————————————————————–Dennis Schmid is a married father of 3 living in Mesa, Arizona. After retiring from playing tennis professionally Dennis moved to California working within the Financial Services Industry helping protect families and businesses. Upon moving back to Arizona in 2007, he married his best friend and started the Mesa Tennis Academy. Dennis will earn his AAS in Paralegal Studies in December this year after which he will attend the University of Maryland University College to earn his Bachelor’s Degree in Cyber-Security with a minor in Homeland Security. While in School, Dennis works full-time for the leader in Identity Theft Protection. Dennis has first-hand knowledge of what society needs to protect your family and business from cyber-attacks and identity theft.