In just a few short weeks, school bells will ring announcing the start of another school year. For many parents, it means forms, forms and more forms – the school directory, scholarships, sports teams, scouts, and the list goes on.
Need to know basis
As you get started, consider how much of your child’s information you’re sharing and how to protect it. For starters, you have some protection under the Federal Education Rights and Privacy Act which requires schools to notify parents and guardians about their school directory policy. It also allows parents to opt out of the release of directory information to third parties.
Safeguard your child’s social security number by not carrying their card with you and asking the school if they really need it for their records. If so, ask for the reasoning why they need it along with how they will protect it. Once you no longer need certain forms after the year begins, shred them using a cross-cut shredder. If you have a college student, consider giving them one to use to destroy pre-approved credit card offers or other pieces of mail that could be used for identity theft.
Be social, but be careful
If your child has a cell phone or some other mobile device and regular access to social media sites, have a heart to heart talk about what they should and shouldn’t share such as their name, address or the full birth date on social media. Become familiar with GPS services on mobile devices and consider using monitoring their online activity to stay alert to any cyberbullying.
Lock it up
To take additional precautions in protecting your child’s information, some states will allow you to freeze their credit record. This requires credit reporting agencies to create and freeze a minor’s credit record upon the request of a parent or minor and prevents a thief from opening any lines of credit or accounts in the child’s name. The only way it can be opened is if the parent or guardian requests it or the child turns 16. Check with your State Attorney General Office for more information.
Have a good start to the new school year with a little peace of mind. If your child’s information is used for identity theft, report it immediately to law enforcement and visit identitytheft.gov for a complete plan on how to recover then report it to BBB’s ScamTracker.
Sandra Guile is the Community Outreach Specialist for BBB. She promotes BBB’s message of marketplace ethics through public speaking engagements, presentations, media relations, press releases, web content, and other written materials. Your BBB is located at 1 East 4th Street Suite 600 Cincinnati, Ohio 45202 – to reach the office, call (513) 421-3015.