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Coastal Banking Company subsidiary forms wholesale unit

Oct 31, 2007

Protecting children before and after identity theftJames BollengierSocial Security number, government-issued identification number, medical or school records Identity theft gets so much airtime in the press that many people get tired of hearing about it. They think that, like other crimes, identity theft is something that happens to someone else. The reality is that the commission of fraud through the assumption of personal information is the fastest growing crime in the country, and more and more people are falling prey without even knowing it. The easiest targets for the crime are often the elderly and children. Most children are issued a Social Security number at birth. This is convenient for mothers and fathers when it comes to filing federal income taxes, but it also means that there is a valid, government-issued identification number that no one will be actively monitoring for 18 years. Thieves know this is typically the scenario and have become very astute at exploitation. Because of the rise of this crime, a generation of children is facing the possibility of starting their financial lives thousands of dollars in the red. There are simple steps that can be taken to help protect your child's financial future. First, make sure that when the Social Security Administration provides the child's official card, you store it in a secure lock box or safe deposit box. Secondly, any forms that have the child's number on them such as medical or school records should be safely stored under lock and key, or shredded before disposal. Third, periodically check with all three major credit repositories to ensure that no credit has been established using the minor's personal information. Fourth, if it is determined at any point that the child's information has been compromised, immediately file a police report to make sure that there is an official public record of the crime. Fifth and perhaps most importantly, educate yourself and your child about credit, its appropriate uses and how to read a credit report. If you cannot determine what is in a report, you cannot determine which accounts belong to you and which do not. Finally, there is one other aspect of child identity theft that is unique. Many cases are perpetrated by close family members who have access and opportunity. There can be a great range of emotions associated with this type of crime, since few are eager to prosecute someone they love on a felony charge. This puts a huge burden on the family as a whole to help the helpless in monitoring their histories and keeping those less scrupulous individuals from taking advantage of the situation. Identity theft of a minor is not the perfect crime. As illustrated above, there are a multitude of precautions Americans can take to help safeguard the financial futures of the young. With due diligence and the right amount of knowledge, it is a problem that can be managed and mitigated. James Bollengier is director of client services for RMCN Inc., a McKinney, Texas-based company that specializes in credit repair, restoration and education. He can be reached at (888) 469-7372, ext. 253 or e-mail [email protected].
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Published
Oct 31, 2007
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