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Protecting Your Kids from Identity Theft

Posted on September 25, 2019

mother and a son sitting on a floor with a map in front of themWhen we think of identity theft, we usually think that it only affects adults. There’s almost an assumption that you can’t be affected till you hit 18, and even then, you have to have a credit card to really become a target. Only adults are targeted because they are the ones with money, right?

This couldn’t be farther from the truth. From the moment you get a social security number to even after you’ve died, you could become a victim of identity theft. In today’s electronic landscape, everybody has a digital fingerprint in some manner, which makes them a potential target, including your children.

That’s why it’s incredibly important for parents to start protecting their kids from identity theft. From posting pictures of them online to their health records held by medical offices, your child’s information is out there and could be used by identity thieves. Protecting your kids has never been more important, so here’s some tips to get you prepared.

Limit What You Are Sharing On Social Media

two kids writing in a notebookYour Facebook, Instagram and other social media platforms probably has tons of information about yourself, but is also a treasure trove of data about your children. Did you post pictures of your kid’s first birthday, on the day? Now people know their birthdate. Got a new dog and showing all your friends? You just gave away a common password/security question.

Social media is fun, but also dangerous. While it might not lead to your child’s identity getting stolen right now, the more clues you leave, the easier it will be for criminals in the future. You might be laying the groundwork for their identity to get stolen today or twenty years from now.  Set your accounts to private, delete old posts and avoid posting private info of yourself and your children.

What Mail Does Your Child Get?

It’s common for us to see junk mail and just throw it out, so your child getting some might not seem unusual to you, but it should be. If your child is getting mail that isn’t designed for their age, it could be an indicator of something worse.

Junk mail that should raise the biggest red flags include credit card offers, bank statements or ads from places you don’t do business with, or notices from collection agencies or the IRS. If your child is under 18, they shouldn’t be getting any of these. Receiving unusual mail is a large clue that their identity might have been stolen. Keep an eye on what kind of junk mail is addressed to your children and investigate further when they get stuff they shouldn’t be.

Teach Your Kids to Protect Themselves Online

two teen boys looking at smartphonesAs your children get older, they will start exploring the internet. In their first steps into the web, your children might be very naive about strangers online and how to interact with others. Before they start making social media accounts, be sure to spend some time educating them on best practices.

Start with showing them how to set their accounts to private and what kind of information to never post online: social security, full name, birthdate, email address, password, etc. Then you should start showing them how to identity scam sites and what to do with suspicious emails. That way, they know how to stay safe online and not fall victim to simple traps.

Freeze Their Credit Till They Are Old Enough

If you are afraid that your child’s identity has been stolen, go ahead a request a credit report for them from the credit bureaus. If their identity hasn’t been stolen and they don’t have a credit card or loan, there should be no credit reports at all. Especially if they are younger, their record should be completely clean.

One option to protect your child is to freeze their credit until they are old enough to start using it. This can block a lot of what an identity thief can do with your child’s information and prevent them from opening credit cards or taking out loans in their name.

Fixing the Mess If Your Child Becomes a Victim

parents walking down a road with two kidsRepairing your child’s credit is much easier than it is for an adult. If they aren’t old enough to apply for a credit card, their credit reports can get scrubbed clean and those accounts will be closed.

But even though it is easier, it still requires quite a bit of work. You’ll need to get in contact with the credit bureaus to dispute the charges, get in touch with any companies where accounts or credit cards have been opened, and take steps to prevent this from happening again.

To help make this problem much easier, Pioneer offers members an option to tackle identity theft. Our ID Theft Protection can clean up any identity theft problems for our members and immediate family members, including your children.  If you have a Rewards Checking account, you’ve already enrolled in ID Theft Protection. If you aren't part of the program, learn more about it and sign up so you and your family can be protected!

Learn More About ID Theft Protection!

Member Benefits
ID Theft Protection Rewards Checking
eStatements Visa® Credit Card


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