Financial Education

Lock Down Your Child's Private Information

Shredding credit card offers, securing personal information within your home, creating difficult passwords – these are all ways to reduce identify theft. But what if it isn't your identity that's the object of concern, but your child's? Unfortunately it's an emerging problem for children, as their Social Security numbers are clean slates, and often the crime isn't detected for years, until the child is an adult.

What can you do to ensure your child's identity stays safe and secure? Follow some of these tips:

1. Keep your child's Social Security card, birth certificate and other important documents in a safe in your home, or in a safe deposit box.

2. Contact Experian, TransUnion and Equifax to request a free credit report for your child. You will need to prove your relationship to the child with a birth certificate.

3. The credit report for your child will determine if your child has credit. If your child does have credit, contact the Federal Trade Commission (www.ftc.gov), Internal Revenue Service (www.irs.gov) and the Internet Crime Complaint Center (www.ic3.gov) to report your child's identity theft.

What Else Can Be Done?

A new law in Maryland has approved a first-of-its-kind measure to enable parents to take steps to protect their children from identity theft. The Maryland Child Identity Lock bill will allow parents to freeze their child's credit at any time, and will also include disabled and elderly people, as they are also vulnerable to identify theft. You may want to ask your state representatives about a similar bill in your state.

Keeping an eye on your child's credit report can help ensure his or her identity remains safe. For more information on a safe deposit box or savings account at Chaco Credit Union, call 785-3500 or visit www.chacocu.org.

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