Back to School – Fraud, Forms, and FacultyAugust 06, 2018
Yes, “back to school” time has arrived: that time of summer when the school supply sales start, children lament how short summer has been, and parents reflect on how long it’s been. Whether your child is starting kindergarten or heading off to college, you are undoubtedly filing out endless forms with the child’s personal and family information. As you check and double-check those forms, it’s worth taking a moment to consider how much information to share.
One way you can help protect your kids from identity theft is to be careful what information you share with schools and other institutions. While school staff work to maintain a careful watch over students, many are not as adept at securing their personal records, especially as more districts migrate to digital record-keeping. Internet hackers tend to focus on less well-protected organizations, and school districts don’t have the same security budgets as big corporations, so schools are becoming prime targets for hackers. (One parent in Iowa even received death threats from hackers who had breached her school district’s security protocols.)
There are a number of preventative measures you can take to help protect your child’s personal information at school.
- Never provide your or your child’s SSN when filling out school paperwork. According to Federal law, schools may require proof of your residency within the boundaries of the district or proof of the child’s age, but they cannot keep anyone from enrolling if the student or parents refuse to provide an SNN.
- Avoid carrying or allowing the child to carry physical documents with identifying information. If possible, keep them in a safe or locked storage. If they are headed to college, consider buying them a lock box for their dorm room.
- If your kids are of an age to use social media, teach them not to post their personal information online, including birthday or birth city.
- Consider freezing kid’s credit profiles. All three major credit bureaus allow parents to establish and freeze a file on behalf of their minor children, requiring a PIN to unfreeze the report when they are ready to start using credit.
- Consider enrolling in a family identity protection service like MyIDCare that includes identity monitoring and identity recovery in case problems do arise.
Back to school is a busy time, what with buying new school clothes and supplies, figuring out bus schedules and carpools, and trying to cram in those last days of summer fun. But taking a little time to protect your child’s identity is a small investment that will pay off for years to come.