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Identity thieves are after your kids social security numbers? Help!

August 10th, 2010 | Small Business | 7 Comments »

It’s August now and summer’s almost over. Fall arrives in a month and with it comes new TV shows, new seasons, football, school and college applications. (Which I don’t have to do anymore, yay!) But, there was one thing that all my college applications asked me (besides my name, address, grades…etc[I’ll give you a hint, most people can’t remember theirs]) .* drumroll* Yes! It is the social security number! *applause* Speaking of social security numbers…..have you read the news lately? You probably know your social security numbers have been targeted by identity thieves for years, but did you ever wonder about your kids?

Recently the Chicago Tribune posted an article about identity thieves are after children’s social security numbers. According to the article, since children’s security numbers are dormant for a long while, they are susceptible to identity theft. After shady internet companies get your kid’s security numbers, they sell them online. When people buy these security numbers, they build their credit rating by using your kid’s credit profile.

By now you’re probably asking yourself “How do I protect my kid’s social security number?” The Chicago Tribune(see previous link) offers some great tips on what to do. One of the most important tips being Never give out your’s kids (or your’s for that matter) social security number needlessly. Don’t give it out on school forms(they’ll never ask anyway), to your kid’s dance teacher, sports coach, for any type of program registration….you get the point. Also, if some online form asks you for your kid’s social security number, make sure it is an actual form, used by a reputable and safe company(like college apps, government forms…etc).

“But what if my kids are already in college,” you may wonder, ” how do I protect their number then?” Well, you can give them this article from the Creston News. It’ll tell your college kids why they’re being targeted and what they can do to prevent it from happening.  You’re probably wondering, “Why college kids?” Well, most college kids don’t have a firmly established credit history. There may be a few purchases here and there(mostly textbooks, school supplies, college fees), but they may not have been spending very often, and that makes it easier for identity thieves to use their numbers. Also, college kids use social networking sites a lot and those sites may not be very secure.

Take Facebook for example, recently they changed their privacy controls making it harder to figure out who sees what on the site.  According to PC World , the number of people searching for directions on how to delete their Facebook account spiked after Facebook announced a shift to a public system from the friends only system it had before. Luckily(for Facebook users anyway) ReclaimPrivacy.org offers a bookmark that’ll scan your Facebook privacy settings and will tell you if you’re sharing more than you intend to(Unfortunately at the time I wrote this post, the bookmark scanner wasn’t fully compatible with the latest Facebook privacy settings…..if you find that it has become fully compatible, let me know.) So, tell your college kids to check their privacy settings for whatever social networking site they’re on, so that they’ll be safe from identity thieves and other people who want to exploit them.

Anyone else have any suggestions on how to protect your kid’s social security numbers? If you do, let me know!

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7 Responses

  1. Andrea Amir says:

    Very Good Article with really good tips.. So, often we take for granted how important our personal information is to us..

    I never really thought about making sure the forms you fill out are actually used by a reputable company. That is a good tip for adults also.. So, often we just fill in all the blanks.

    Another really good thing to do is actually have college age kids pull their credit report when they turn 18 and every year thereafter. That way they are familiar with the form and to have a good reference point for the future..

  2. One other suggestion: never publish your place of birth on any kind of website. There is (or at least used to be– not sure if there still is) a geographical element to social security numbers. People born on the east coast have SS numbers that start with certain numbers, for example. While it would be next to impossible to randomly guess a full social security number — still, why make it easy?

    And besides, information other than SS numbers can be used for identity theft.

    Bottom line: never give out your birthdate or place of birth because it can be used to support other stolen information for identity theft. And never give out information that can be used as common password reminders, such as your favorite movie or favorite book or mother’s maiden name.

    • mitalib says:

      Thank you for the tips! Another one could be to use a random, obscure, or archaic word for your password. Or better yet, put it in a language other than English!

  3. RajMalik says:

    Really great tips Anita. I can not believe how many bdays I see on Facebook! Thanks for stopping by and posting the comment. It is much appreciated. – Raj ps Hope all is well in Akron. I hope to visit the hometown during fall.

  4. BizSugar.com says:

    KikScore Blog…

    Can You Sleep Knowing Your Children’s Dormant Social Security Numbers Are Being Sought By Identity Thieves?…

  5. It won’t help cause everything can be faked and people who enter the country with visas and then disappear will still manage to blend in cause you won’t be randomly asked for your I.D card.

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