The Federal Trade Commission reports that young people make up 31% of reported cases of identity theft each year. This is because they have “unblemished” credit records (indeed, they have no credit records at all!). Once their identity is stolen, it can go undetected for months, if not years.
Experts have identified five primary steps to help your teenager prevent identity theft and fraud. Following these simple yet powerful practices will go far in helping to protect their identity and credit into adulthood.

  1. Keep important documents such as birth certificates, passports and Social Security Cards in a safe place. College students living in a dorm room or apartment should be advised that bank account statements, credit cards, bills and other personal information should be locked up to avoid the temptation of roommates and casual visitors with “prying eyes.”

  2. Talk to your child about why they should not give out personal information on the phone or online, especially on social networking sites. Tell them to carefully question anyone who requests any identity or financial information, including Social Security number, bank account number, credit card number, etc.

  3. Schools, athletic teams and medical offices routinely request Social Security numbers or birth certificates for registration purposes. Before providing this information, ask if this data is required, and by whom. If the answer isn’t satisfactory, don’t provide the data.

  4. When your teen opens his/her first checking account, discuss the importance of safeguarding checks, debit/ATM cards and bank account numbers. Make sure they understand the importance of never keeping a debit card and PIN in the same location, and never sharing PINs or passwords with anyone. Remind them to carefully and regularly monitor accounts for suspicious activities.

  5. Set up a date with your teen once a year to check their credit report for any unauthorized accounts and/or requests for credit.

If you believe your child’s identity may have been stolen, contact one of the three major credit bureaus, immediately dispute any bills with fraudulent charges, and visit the ID Theft Resource Center on the Federal Trade Commission Website.