Scambook Warns Even Children Are at Risk of Back to School Identity Theft

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As the school year is starting to ramp up again, parents need to be wary that scammers may be targeting their children. As parents fill out endless forms for their child’s school, these registration forms that ask for anything from the child’s birthday to their social security number can put their child at risk of identity theft.

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While it may seem that all of this paperwork is part of the back-to-school process, this personal information can in fact be used to commit fraud in the child’s name if it falls into the wrong hands.

As the school year is starting to ramp up again, parents need to be wary that scammers may be targeting their children. As parents fill out endless forms for their child’s school, these registration forms that ask for anything from the child’s birthday to their social security number can put their child at risk of identity theft.

“Many people are aware that scammers prey on volatile consumers such as the elderly, but even children are at risk of identity theft. While it may seem that all of this paperwork is part of the back-to-school process, this personal information can in fact be used to commit fraud in the child’s name if it falls into the wrong hands,” says Scambook’s Director of Marketing Kase Chong.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) says, “When children are victims of identity theft, the crime may go undetected for years – or at least until your child is old enough to apply for a job or a loan, or rent an apartment.” *

Therefore, parents should educate themselves fully on how they can protect their child’s identity by observing the following tips:

1.    Don’t hesitate to communicate with the school. Parents should ask the school about their privacy policy in regards to where personal records are kept, who has access to them, and what safeguards are in place to protect the child’s privacy before filling out any paperwork with their child’s personal information.

2.    Should a breach occur, follow up. It’s important that in the case of a data breach at a child’s school that all parents follow up. Detailed records of all conversations with teachers, administrators, and staff should be kept. In addition, parents need to learn what information was exposed, how, and what is being done to prevent future breaches.

3.    File a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education. All copies of this correspondence should be kept safe for records in case any legal action needs to be taken.

4.    Be aware of warning signs of identity theft. Should a family receive credit cards in the child's name, collection calls for medical treatments the child never received, or any other suspicious activity take action in regards to the child, parents should take these signs seriously and take action immediately.

5.    Know the child’s rights. There are laws and regulations to ensure the privacy and accuracy of educational records and to protect students’ privacy on educational surveys.

6.    FERPA limits how records are shared. Under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), parents or students once over 18 or having graduated from high school have the right to inspect educational records for inaccuracies and to limit how their records are shared. FERPA also gives parents the right to opt out of sharing directory information with third parties, including other families. **

7.    PRRA protects school survey results. The Department of Education may conduct research surveys in schools under its purview, but under the Protection of Pupil Rights Amendment (PPRA), parents have the right to see any materials used for this purpose in advance of the surveys, and in some cases, ask that their child not participate. Scambook advises parents to ask the school for its complete survey policy. ***

ABOUT SCAMBOOK
Scambook is an online complaint resolution platform dedicated to obtaining justice for victims of fraud with unprecedented speed and accuracy. By building communities and providing resources on the latest scams, Scambook arms consumers with the up-to-date information they need to stay on top of emerging schemes. Since its inception, Scambook has resolved over $10 million in reported consumer damages. For more information, visit scambook.com.

*Tressler, Colleen. “Protecting Your Child’s Personal Information at School.” http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/blog/protecting-your-childs-personal-information-school 08/13/2013

**U.S. Department of Education. “Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.” http://www.ed.gov/policy/gen/guid/fpco/ferpa/index.html 02/28/2011

***U.S. Department of Education. “Protection of Pupil Rights Amendment.” http://www2.ed.gov/policy/gen/guid/fpco/ppra/index.html 02/17/2005

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Judy Dixon
PMBC Group
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