If you’re like me and you’ve got kids who are getting ready to go back to school, the last thing on your mind is worrying about your children become the victims of identity theft.
But federal authorities are warning parents that back-to-school season is actually a risky time of year when it comes to the potential for young people to become targeted by identity thieves.
Think about it: You’re filling out a slew of paperwork, emergency contact forms, healthcare documents and other required registration forms. If some of that information lands in the hands of an identity thief, someone could perpetrate fraud in your child’s name.
Crooks have been known to steal children’s Social Security numbers to do everything from opening credit card accounts to applying for jobs and loans to renting apartments.
Now the Federal Trade Commission is helping consumers to fight back against these kind of scams.
The FTC has just unveiled a new publication, Protecting Your Child’s Personal Information at School, which advises parents how to limit the risks of identity theft.
The publication also explains the federal Family Educational Rights Privacy Act. That’s the law that 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.
If you don’t want to wind up on a bunch of random mailing lists from people and organizations trying to sell you or your kids something, I highly recommend that you “opt out” and tell your child’s school that you don’t want your contact information shared with third parties.
Finally, if you’ve got a complaint about fraud or deceptive, unfair business practices, you can file a complaint in English or Spanish by going to the FTC’s online Complaint Assistant or by calling 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357).
If you register a complaint, the FTC will enter it into its secure online database, called Consumer Sentinel, which is made available to more than 2,000 civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad.