Identity theft is still the fastest growing crime in America according to the Federal Trade Commission, and more often, crooks are going after kids. More >>
Identity theft is still the fastest growing crime in America according to the Federal Trade Commission, and more often, crooks are going after kids -- but now some kids are finding out it's their own parents who have stolen their identities.More >>
Parents enjoy posting pictures of their children online and sharing them with friends and family. However, our cyber expert says there's good reason not to give up too much information about those cute little baby pictures. More >>
Kids are natural targets for identity thieves because the crime can go undetected for years. Unfortunately, school is one of the places where a child's personal information can easily be compromised.
Officer Jason Caravaglia with Henrico County Police and the Central Virginia Crime Prevention Association says protecting your child's ID at school is a serious matter. If crooks get their hands on the information filled out on all those school forms, it could lead to identity theft.
"They are stealing that information and you won't find out until the kid is ready to go to college, when he applies for a credit card or a bank loan," he says.
Police say with a down economy, crooks are desperate.
"They are out of work. They are out of jobs. It's a big white collar crime now. They are taking the children's information because we really don't do a credit check on a 9-year-old," Caravaglia explains.
The FTC is also warning parents about the risks of identity theft. In two publications, it offers helpful tips. It reminds parents to pay attention to material sent home through mail or email that ask for personal information. Also, ask about your school's directory policy and how that data can be shared.
Another tip: Find out who has access to your child's information.
"I know Henrico county, for a fact, does secure all the documents of the children in a safe," Caravaglia added.
Do a credit check on your child with the three major credit agencies. Your child's credit should be clean, but if not, there's a problem.
"That is something you want to try to check once a year to make sure their credit is good. It is something that we have never done before as parents. You know, do a credit check on a 5-year-old, but it is an increasing white collar crime and it is something you are going to have to do now," Caravaglia explains.
If you suspect your child is a victim of ID theft, contact their school and the police, then request a fraud alert on their credit file.
"Don't carry your child's birth certificate in your purse or social security cards in your purse. When you are giving information out, make sure you know why you are giving it out. If someone asks for their social security number, make sure you ask why," adds Caravaglia.
One red flag that your child's identity has been compromised is if you start receiving credit card offers in their name. If you have questions about your child's privacy at school, don't hesitate to contact their school.