When you think of back-to-school you think of school supplies, school clothes and school sports. Many don’t think about ways to protect their child’s ID.
As parents, that’s exactly what you need to do. Here’s why: One in 40 families with children under 18 had at least one child whose personal information was compromised, according to a 2012 survey by the Identity Theft Assistance Center and the Javelin Strategy & Research group. The survey revealed that identity thieves most often steal children’s Social Security numbers, since young children seldom have the credit histories acquired by adults, such as credit cards, bank accounts, licenses and financial statements.
If you’re a parent with a child who’s enrolled in school, your BBB offers these steps to ensure your child’s identity remains safe.
Find Out Who Has Access to Your Child’s Personal Information
Verify that school records are kept in a secure location.
Pay Attention to Forms From School
Forms that ask for personal information, including your child’s Social Security Number, may come home with your child, or you may get them through the mail or by email. Find out if you can provide a different identifier other than the SSN as well as how your child’s information will be used, whether it will be shared and with whom.
Read Notices From Your Child’s School
Your school will send home an annual notice that explains your rights under the Family Educational and Privacy Act, including your right to:
- inspect and review your child’s education records;
- approve the disclosure of personal information in your child’s records; and
- ask to correct errors in the records.
Ask For a Copy of Your School’s Policy on Surveys
The Protection of Pupil Rights Amendment gives you the right to see surveys and instructional materials before they are distributed to students.
Consider Other Programs that Take Place at the School
Your child may participate in programs, like sports and music activities, that aren’t formally sponsored by the school. These programs may have websites where children are named and pictured. Read the privacy policies of these organizations to find out if – and how – your child’s information will be used and shared.
Take Action if the School Experiences a Data Breach
Your child’s school or the school district may notify you of a data breach. If not, and you believe your child’s information has been compromised, contact the school to learn more. Talk with teachers, staff or administrators about the incident and their practices. Keep a written record of your conversations. Write a letter to the appropriate administrator and, if necessary, to the school board.
File a Complaint
You may file a written complaint with the U.S. Department of Education. Contact the Family Policy Compliance Office, U.S. Department of Education, 400 Maryland Ave., SW, Washington, DC 20202-5920, and keep a copy for your records. Visit the Department’s website at usa.gov/1rr3YxW to learn more about FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act).
Start With Trust. For more consumer tips and information, please visit bbb.org/atlanta.