Back to School: Safety Tips

Back to School: Safety Tips

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Public schools are reopening up across the nation as students, parents, teachers and administrators put the long summer recess behind them. As always, the safety of students is of critical importance with millions of children taking school buses, riding bikes or walking to school.

Eight Tips

But, getting to and from school isn’t the only concern of parents who should be aware of other threats to their children’s safety and privacy. Intersections Inc., which calls itself a leading provider of consumer and corporate identity risk management services, has offered eight tips to help parents keep their children from being victimized by identity theft this school year:

1. Remind your children not to share any personal information like their home address, phone number, or Social Security numbers with strangers. Typically the first day of school is filled with lots of questions from school staff and children need to know to ask their parents first before sharing any of that information.

2. If you are a new parent with a child entering kindergarten, most schools will require a copy of that child’s birth certificate. Do not leave a copy behind. If they are collecting information for later review, ask them where this information will be stored and who will have access to it.

3. Most schools still ask for the child’s Social Security number; however, it is more of a “like to have” rather than a “must have.” This information is not always handled properly and puts your child further at risk for having their identity compromised should the information be accidentally leaked or stolen from insiders. Ask to speak to the principal if you are uncomfortable with providing the information.

4. Children are always excited to show off their brand new backpacks and supplies on the first day of school. And most backpacks nowadays include identification tags that hang on the outside that include the owner’s name and home address. Instead of making your child’s personal information easily accessible, writing their name in permanent ink somewhere on the inside of the bag is a better idea.

5. With more and more schools providing students access to computers for everyday use, it is important to teach your children how to be safe online while at school and to familiarize yourself with the school’s Acceptable Use Policy for Internet Use.

6. Stay involved with your child’s online activities. Based on a study by Grunwald Associates, an estimated 27 percent of 9-17 year olds maintained weekly blogs, web pages or other online spaces in 2008. One in five U.S. children say they do things online their parents would not approve of, according to a recent Norton Online Living Report. Make sure you monitor what your children are doing online. Review and explain the privacy policies with your child so they understand how their information can be exposed if proper security preferences are not put in place.

7. Consider using parental control software or services to help monitor what your children are doing online. Some parental control software can cost around $40 while many websites like AOL, MSN and Yahoo, offer some form of free parental controls included with their services.

8. Keep an eye out for any mail, particularly credit applications addressed to your child, or telemarketing calls asking for your child by name — this could indicate that someone has used your child’s personal information to commit identity theft.

Effective Weapons

Commenting about the school year and identity theft Intersections CEO and founder Michael Stanfield says, “Education is one of the most effective weapons against identity theft. We want to help parents understand the risks and know what to do if theft does occur.” That’s sound and timely advice as our children head off to school, tips that can save families much grief if heeded.

Source: Intersections Inc.

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Categories: Consumer Tips