Limit the exposure of personal information
Details such as your child's full name, address and date of birth can be enough to get an identity thief started.
"Your kid's information is often in circulation in all sorts of ways," says Melinda Opperman, senior vice president of community outreach and industry relations at Springboard Nonprofit Consumer Credit Management.
Limit the personal information you and your child share on social media. In addition, don't sign up for unnecessary accounts such as magazines, mailing lists or frequent flier programs, because your child's information will be sold to marketers. At doctors' offices, write down personal details for the receptionist. Some thieves lurk in the lobby and listen for those few telling bits. At school, your child's information is likely in a directory that schools can share with third parties. Under the federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, parents have the ability to opt out of that information-sharing. But parents need to actively opt out. "That's a really important thing to do," says Weisman. "A lot of times, parents aren't really aware that they have that right."