Back to school, back to protecting your child’s information
It’s back to school time. That means forms, forms and more forms – the school directory, scholarships, sports teams, scouts, and the list goes on. As you get started, consider these tips for keeping your child’s personal information safe, from pre-school through college.
- Safeguard your child’s SSN. Don’t carry your child’s Social Security card with you. And don’t give your child’s Social Security number (SSN) unless absolutely necessary. If someone wants it, ask why and find out how they’ll protect it.
- Limit what kids share online. Teach kids not to post their name, address or full date of birth on social media.
- Use strong passwords on smartphones, tablets or laptops. Teach the importance of changing passwords – and not sharing them. This is especially important for college students in a dorm or other shared living.
- Use a crosscut shredder. Shred documents with your child’s personal information, when you no longer need them. Consider buying a shredder for your college student to shred pre-approved credit offers. In the wrong hands, those offers can be used for identity theft.
- Know your rights under FERPA. The Federal Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) protects the privacy of student records. FERPA requires schools to notify parents and guardians about their school directory policy. It also gives you the right to opt out of the release of directory information to third parties.
- Get familiar with GPS services on mobile phones. You can use GPS to track where your child is … but others can too. Tell your kids to limit the use of GPS so they are not broadcasting their location to the world.
Check out Net Cetera: Chatting with kids about being online for more back-to-school ideas on talking with kids about online safety. And if someone misuses your child’s information, go to IdentityTheft.gov to find out what steps to take. The FTC’s website has more information about child identity theft.