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Is someone using your child’s Social Security number or other personal information to commit fraud? Unfortunately, the number of cases of identity theft committed against children is on the rise, according to the Federal Trade Commission. And parents may be completely unaware until the child is one day denied a driver’s license or a college tuition loan because of the bad record that an identity thief has built in the child’s name.
The California Society of CPAs (www.calcpa.org) offers a series of steps you can take to prevent your child from becoming a victim.
Identity theft occurs when a criminal uses someone else’s personal information to commit fraud, such as running up credit card bills in another person’s name or using their identity to get a driver’s license or other false credentials. Adults have been the victims of identity theft for years, but scammers have found that a child’s personal information is just as useful in committing fraud.
That’s why it’s important to take the same precautions to protect your child’s personal information that you take for your own data. For example, don’t reveal your child’s Social Security number or other personal data without good reason. When someone requests this information, ask why it is needed and what steps will be taken to protect your child’s privacy. Make sure the information is kept confidential and in a secure location.
Young children have been the victims of identity theft, but college students are especially vulnerable because they live in close quarters with other students and may not be especially alert to protecting their privacy. They should take care to secure their credit cards or other information and to keep their wallet and important documents in a safe place. If the college uses students’ Social Security number as their ID number, ask to change it to another number.
Your local CPA can offer advice on how to prevent your family from becoming the victims of fraud. Consult your CPA on any important financial issues.