Child ID Kits are recommended by law enforcement agencies and many child advocacy agencies, but including the wrong information in a Child ID Kit can create new vulnerabilities for your child’s identity.
Many kits are offered through non-profit organizations for free or for a very nominal charge to cover the costs of the kits. Kits offered by credible organizations provide instructions so parents can update the kits themselves and keep them in a secure location in their home. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children has a free kit available at http://www.missingkids.org/publications/ChildIDKit, and the FBI has a free FBI Child ID Kit available at the App Store for iPhone users.
There are also for-profit companies that will provide this service. In this case, you are often paying for convenience or expertise. There are many examples of services that are offered for a fee, but that you can do yourself, such as car washes, dog groomers, even meal preparation. This is a personal choice and parents should do their homework before engaging the services of a company. This is particularly important when you are dealing with very sensitive personal information. If you, or your child’s school/daycare/afterschool program decide to use one of these third parties for Child ID Kit services, don’t assume that due diligence was done. It is up to you to look into that third party’s practices. Ask questions and do some quick research to ensure that you are working with a legitimate company.
Red Flags to Watch Out For
- Companies that offer to collect and retain your child’s biometric information. Biometric information is very sensitive and should be in the custody of parents. If you are having your child’s fingerprints taken or DNA collected, ensure that you are given the cards, and then secure them in a safe location in your home. Do not allow the company to retain a copy of this information.
- Companies recommend you carry biometric information on your person at all times. Some companies will offer to digitize the information and include it on a thumb drive for you to carry on your key chain. Carrying a copy of your child’s fingerprints on you at all times is not a best practice and is not endorsed by child safety professionals. Wallets, purses, and keychains are lost or stolen on a regular basis. The only exception is carrying this information with you when you are traveling.
- Companies that request or want to obtain other sensitive personal information. Information such as Social Security number, a passport number or a copy of a birth certificate will not assist in the search for a missing child. There is no need for this information to be included in a Child ID Kit.
- For-profit companies that state they are endorsed by law enforcement. While some practices may be endorsed by the law enforcement community, a particular for-profit company will rarely be. Sometimes for-profit companies will establish a partnership with law enforcement, but don’t take their word for it. Check with law enforcement yourself.
- For-profit companies that state all proceeds go to charity. If the company does not list the charity, consider this a big red flag. If they do list the charity, check that it’s a legitimate organization (you can check bbb.org, Guidestar.org, and charitynavigator.org) and ask them directly if this is a fundraiser they endorse.
- Companies that use scare tactics, or peer-pressure tactics to entice you to use their program, as opposed to the free programs/resources available. You are paying for convenience. Be aware of high pressure sales tactics that allude to the fact that you are a bad parent if you don’t participate, that your child will feel left out, that other parents will judge you. You can decide how best to capture and secure this important information.
The ITRC wants parents to have the knowledge to be able to choose a proper service for their child’s ID Kit without putting their child at additional risk for identity theft. This is why we have created a free fact sheet for parents with information on this specific matter.
More information on Child ID Kit best practices is available on the ITRC website: Choosing A Child ID Kit.
About the Identity Theft Resource Center
The Identity Theft Resource Center’s is a non-profit organization established to support victims of identity theft in resolving their cases, and to broaden public education and awareness in the understanding of identity theft, data breaches, cybersecurity, scams/fraud, and privacy issues. ITRC’s expert Identity Theft Information Specialists are trained to provide one-on-one assistance for all types of identity theft. To speak with a Specialist, call 888-400-5530 or use the live chat feature on idtheftcenter.org.
About the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children
The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children® opened in 1984 to serve as the nation’s clearinghouse on issues related to missing and sexually exploited children. Today NCMEC is authorized by Congress to perform 22 programs and services to assist law enforcement, families and the professionals who serve them. Contact NCMEC at 1-800-THE-LOST (1-800-843-5678) or www.missingkids.org.