A new school year usually means filling out paperwork like registration forms, health forms, and emergency contact forms, to name a few. The Federal Trade Commission wants parents to know that many school forms require personal and sensitive information that, in the wrong hands, could be used to commit fraud in their child’s name.
A criminal can use a child’s Social Security number to get government benefits, open bank and credit card accounts, or rent a place to live. Most parents and guardians don’t expect their child to have a credit file, and rarely order or monitor a child’s credit report. Child identity theft may go undetected for years – until the child applies for a job or loan and discovers problems in a credit report.
To help limit the risks of child identity theft, the Federal Trade Commission offers Protecting Your Child’s Personal Information at School. It explains how the federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act protects the privacy of student records and gives parents of school-age children the right to opt out of sharing contact information with third parties. It also suggests that parents ask their child’s school about its directory information policy, learn about privacy policies of sports or music activities that are not school-sponsored, and find out what to do if their child’s school experiences a data breach.
The second publication, Safeguarding Your Child’s Future, offers tips on how to keep your child’s data safe at home and online, and explains the warning signs of child identity theft. It also explains how parents and guardians can check whether their child has a credit report, and what to do if the report has errors.
The Federal Trade Commission works for consumers to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices and to provide information to help spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint in English or Spanish, visit the FTC's online Complaint Assistant or call 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357). The FTC enters complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to more than 2,000 civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad.
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