Consumer Alert: Back-to-school time can be prime for identity thieves

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EDISON -

As students begin to head back to school, consumer advocates warn parents to be mindful about potential identity theft of their children’s information.

A report from Carnegie Mellon University a few years ago found that 1 in 10 children had their Social Security numbers attached to loans, property or other accounts. This was 51 times higher than the identity theft rate of adults.

“Kids don’t check. Parents aren’t necessarily going to check. So if you’re an identity thief and you can get your hands on an infant’s Social Security number or a child’s Social Security number, that’s gold,” says consumer advocate Adam Levin.

Security experts say that when signing children up for school activities, parents should be warned not to provide too much information. Names, phone numbers and birthdates are OK, but parents do not need to provide their child’s Social Security number.

Parents should also speak to their kids about social media and what is safe or unsafe to share.

If the child has a cellphone, experts say that it might be worth it to invest a few dollars for a service to block calls from spammers and telemarketers.

Parents can also check their children’s credit file once a year with each of the three major credit reporting agencies. Starting Sept. 21, parents in all 50 states will be able to freeze their child’s credit reports, as well as their own, at no charge.

This is thanks to a new federal law.

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