My Social Security card was the very first form of ID that my parents allowed me to carry. I remember feeling so grown. That was many, many years ago and telling me to protect my Social Security number with my life was the last thing on my parents’ minds to tell me. However, in today’s times, children need to be instructed on how to protect their ID. Teens need to know when and who to give out such valuable information, and when not to share this information.
Identity thieves like to prey on teenagers because their credit is fresh and untouched. The most disheartening thing that could happen to a young adult, is come to realize, that he/she is unable to buy their first car, open a checking account, get a credit card or work certain places, because someone whom they probably don’t know has stolen their identity and charged thousands of dollars to their name. Thus, leaving them with bad credit at an age when they should be just establishing their credit history.
Here are few steps that you can take to help protect their identity and ensure that your teenager doesn’t fall prey to identity thieves.
1. Tell your teenager to never give out their Social Security number to anyone that they don’t know, especially on the phone, email or online. Whenever asked for such information, they should have a clear reason why it is needed. Children are taught to trust adults, but, they need to know when to question intentions. They can always say that they will get back to them with that information, if they are unsure and ask you what to do.
2. Teens don’t need to carry their Social Security cards on them. Instead, for identifying purposes, get a state picture ID. If the teen is of driving age, then a driver’s permit will be just perfect, which will encourage them to be more responsible and mature. Some states have the option of putting the Social Security number on the license or state ID, they can certainly opt out of that.
3. I suggest around the age of 16, you should start checking your teen’s credit once a year and teach them how to continue this practice after they reach the age of 18 and start handling their own financial business. Under the United States Federal Credit Reporting Act, consumers can get a free credit report once a year at annualcreditreport.com
4. Teach your teens the importance of protecting their pin numbers and passwords when they start using debit and credit cards. Changing them periodically is a good habit to have to prevent people from gaining access to their accounts.
5. If their identity is compromised in anyway, report it immediately to banks and creditors. A police report will be needed to send to banks, credit agencies and anyone effected by the identity theft.
Taking a few precautions will save your child from years of trying to repair a credit history that he/she had no hand in destroying. They have high school proms, graduations and college parties to think about, the last thing they need is to be worrying about their credit reports.
Read more information on how to protect yourself and family from identity thieves – Your Social Security Number, Credit Report and Identity Theft