Protecting Children From Identity Theft & Scams
These days, scammers are going after everyone. Unfortunately, this includes kids and students. Minors are not safe from the potential of identity theft or other scams. So how do you guard personal information on behalf of youth, and what do you do if it is misused?
Be sure to talk with your kids about the importance of not sharing personal information, whether it’s via social media or if asked for by an adult they don’t know. Teach them the importance of protecting personal data. This includes:
- Do not over-share on social media. Keep private information private! Scammers use information found on social media to trick you or others. It is a good idea to confirm social media privacy settings, too.
- Never click on links sent via text or email—or download files—unless you’re absolutely sure of the source.
- Beware unsolicited offers and deals that look ‘too good to be true’ as they are likely a scam.
Related: Read about special offer red flags in our article Stay Safe From Scams This Holiday Season
The more information about someone an identity thief can acquire, the easier it is for the thief to misuse it.
Beware Scams Targeting Students
Scholarship and grant scams are common and can include offers to help you find one for a fee or they want personal information from you. But why pay when you can search for free?
Job scams also affect students. Don’t be tempted by lures of easy money or claims of high-paying entry-level jobs. Other warning signs that the job or scholarship opportunity might actually be a scam include:
- There’s a fee to apply
- You are required to buy supplies
- Someone sends you a check for no reason and asks you to put it in your account
Students should seek free information from their high school and college counselors about scholarship opportunities. You can also learn about the types of aid available online at fafsa.ed.gov through the Free Application for Federal Student Aid.
Warning Signs That Your Child’s Identity Has Been Stolen
How do you know if your child(ren)’s identity has been stolen? Here are some signs to watch for:
- Unsolicited credit card offers in the child’s name.
- Mailed bills or late notices for services or goods he or she didn’t receive.
- A notice from the IRS about taxes due.
- A notice the child’s Social Security number was already used on a tax return.
Other warning signs include suspicious activity involving a child's email, phone number, or a bank account in their name. If you suspect something is wrong or received any of the above warning signs, here are some tips:
- Contact the company where fraud may have occurred, explain the situation and have the business or agency confirm in writing that the child isn’t liable.
- Check the child’s credit report. If there is a problem contact each of the three credit-reporting bureaus and follow their instructions. Generally, there should not be a report for a young child.
- Contact local law enforcement and file a report.
- File a report with the Federal Trade Commission at identitytheft.gov or by calling 877.438.4338.
For additional tips about protecting yourself from identity theft, including what to do if you suspect you've been a victim of identity theft, check out our webpage for more.
PROTECT YOURSELF FROM IDENTITY THEFT
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