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Being Smart When Kids Return to School

Kids love back-to-school season almost as much as identity thieves. And what’s not to love? New clothing. New supplies. New schedule. Sometimes even a new school. It’s new everything! But all that new stuff means a lot of transactions and exchanging of information—pretty tempting to an identity thief.

From pre-school to college, back-to-school season can be a dangerous time for your children’s identity. The best way to protect your kids is to stay informed. Here are six common back-to-school activities that put you and your child’s identity at risk.

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  1. Sports & Extra-Curricular Activities: Many after-school activities take place on school grounds, but they may be sponsored by an outside organization with different privacy policies than a school. Make every effort to keep as much information under wraps as possible and ensure your child’s information isn’t being posted on the organizations websites, game lineups, etc.
  2. Back-to-School Shopping: Back to school shopping can be fun, as well as a little frantic. But this is not the time to let your guard down. Keep an eye on your credit cards, use cash whenever possible and make sure you’re on a secure website and connection when shopping online. Find more information about credit and debit card fraud.
  3. Purchasing Books: In many colleges, purchasing textbooks requires a student ID number or card. But a student’s name and ID number could lead an identity thief to a full profile. Plus, in all the hustle of buying the right books in time for that first class, it’s easy to lose track of credit cards and numbers. Before your children start the Fall semester, be sure to talk to them about the importance of keeping these items safe and private. Find out more information about identity theft and college students.
  4. Submitting Enrollment Information: Between birthdates, Social Security numbers and medical documents, schools keep loads of identity information stored for their records. But if they get robbed, hacked or breached, personal information could be compromised. But what can you do? Above all, provide as little information as possible. Keep an eye on what paperwork comes home and what forms go out, making sure this information is delivered securely. If possible, make sure that your child’s school keeps its records in a safe place.
  5. Filling Out a FAFSA: A Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form contains a wealth of personal information. In other words, it’s an identity thief’s treasure trove. Keep track of communications from FAFSA and shred documents when possible. And be sure not to fall for any fraudulent websites or phishing emails that may be mocking FAFSA documents. Find more information about phishing. Find more information about counterfeit websites.
  6. Knowing Your Rights: The Protection of Pupil Rights Amendment (PPRA) gives you the freedom to see surveys and instructional materials before they are passed out in the classroom. The Family Educational Rights Privacy Act (FERPA) protects the privacy of your students’ information and gives parents and students the option to view those records. Know your rights, and take advantage of them. Monitoring your child’s educational records can help your keep your child protected. Find more information about your federal rights.

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