Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Pause, Ponder and Protect your identity and financial future!

Guest post by:  Marilyn Prosch, Ph.D., CIPP
                                Associate Professor
                                W.P. Carey School of Business
                                Dept. of Information Systems
                                Privacy by Design Research Lab

Note: This important post is written specifically for Kids.
You may worry about losing your skateboards and bicycles, so sometimes you lock them up.  You may also worry about losing your cell phones, iPods, or perhaps even a gift card; so you keep them close at hand. 

But did you know right now, someone could be stealing your most valuable asset, your identity!  A recent study showed that 1 out of 10 children has had their “identity” stolen, which frequently leads to bad credit they may not know about for years.   So -- when you work hard and save your money for a down payment on a house someday; you may have trouble buying it, after all of your hard work, because somebody stole your good name and identity and messed it up!

Here are some general guidelines
consisting of 3Ps to protect your identity
Pause, Ponder, Protect!
Pause, if anyone or organization asks for your social security number, then ponder (think) about the following in order to protect yourself:
1.       Unless you are applying for a job or a passport, don’t give your social security number to anyone!
2.       If a public school form requests it, ask the school for a policy (required by law) that explains how and why they use it. Mention the Privacy Act of 1974. If the school doesn’t provide it, don’t provide your social security number. (If you are further interested go here.)
3.       Clubs, youth groups and athletic activities don’t need your social security number, so don’t give it.  Ask the group WHY they need it and ask for a privacy policy!
4.       If you notice credit card applications coming to your home, talk to your parents and ask them to check your credit from 1 of the 3 free credit agencies. (Equifax, TransUnion, or Experion) You get 1 free credit check a year from each agency, to learn more go here.
5.       If you notice bills, like cell phone, utility or credit card bills, coming in your name; this is a bit more troubling.  Unfortunately, some kids’ parents have bad credit, so they use their children’s identity, but sometimes they ruin their kids’ credit too.  Talk to your parents about your concerns, and remember this is legal theft.

Bottom line:  Be Proactive to Protect to your “Person.”
Pause, Ponder, Protect!