I was watching the Montel show about identity theft and learned something new today. Sure I used to laugh when my husband would save our mail and shred it, I don’t now. I never thought about my credit or getting a credit report at all, let alone every 6 months. Check my bank account and credit card balance at least once a day, why would I do that, I knew what I spent. Cut the pin code off of an old credit card and dispose of it at a latter date, what cutting the card in half was not enough? My husband is having the last laugh now, because what he has always done is what we need to do now to keep our identity and credit for ourselves.
Over the years I have learned how to protect myself from fraud and identity theft. Why because I was victim of fraud and did not know for three years. I ended up having to declare bankruptcy after spending over five years trying to get my money back and clear up debts that were not even mine. I will have to spend years rebuilding my credit because I trusted the wrong person. My ability to give my children what they need has been limited by someone’s greed. I was lucky that the person only took my money, stock from my business and my trust. At this point in time I believe my identity is my own, but that may change as I rebuild my credit. I don’t know how much of my information he took as he had access to everything. It may be just a matter of time before I suddenly have credit cards and bank loans I never took out. I don’t know if he sold my information to others or not. It is just a matter of keeping an eye on things and hoping that if nothing has been used in the last seven years nothing will.
So I do everything I can to make sure that I don’t get taken again. However, I never thought to get a credit report for my kids. Today I learned that if someone has a SIN # they are at risk. Even a two year-old can have a credit card issued or a bank loan. There are quite a few cases where parents used their kid’s information to get credit cards and loans and years latter the kids had to deal with the consequence. I would never do that and I never thought about someone else using my children’s information to get credit. It took me a bit to rap my head around the idea of someone destroying a child’s credit, their ability to get a loan to go to collage, or get their first car, or their first apartment. That is just evil, but then they don’t care about anyone but themselves. We as adults need to protect our children and grandchildren as well as ourselves.
So what can you do to protect your children? Get a credit report for your children and yourself every 6 months. Your childs credit report should be that there is nothing to report. If you can join something like lifelock, an identity and fraud protection company. I only know about that one from their ads, I am sure there are other companies out there. See if they have a plan for children or a family rate. Protect your children’s information as you do your own. Shred your mail, have a mailbox with a lock and do not give information out. Treat information as a valuable resource that can be used against you, protect it or destroy it before someone uses it. We want to protect our kids from everything we can and now we just have to add this to the list.
PS: I have just been informed of Identity Theft Shield provided by Pre-Paid Legal Services Inc. for Canadians. Information about this can be found at www.identity-shield.ca.