It’s bad enough that ID theft criminals are targeting students of all ages at the beginning of every school year.

It gets worse when the risky behavior of students on websites, blogs, and applications can create the potential for dangerous interaction with other students including bullying to child predators.

The Federal Trade Commission just published a great article titled “Back to school, back to protecting your child’s information,” in which the FTC reminds parents that the new school year means completing paperwork such as registration forms, health forms, and emergency contact forms that require personal and sensitive information that “in the wrong hands could be used to commit fraud in their child’s name.”

Whether you child is entering preschool or is in college, you need to be on ID-theft watch. To help, I have assembled key points from the FTC’s article as it provides excellent guidance to help keep your child’s information safe:

  • Safeguard your child’s SSN. Don’t carry your child’s Social Security card with you. And don’t give your child’s Social Security number unless absolutely necessary. If someone wants it, ask why and find out how they’ll protect it.
  • Limit what kids share online. Teach kids not to post their name, address or full date of birth on social media.
  • Use strong passwords on smartphones, tablets or laptops. Teach the importance of changing passwords – and not sharing them. This is especially important for college students in a dorm or other shared living.
  • Use a crosscut shredder. Shred documents with your child’s personal information when you no longer need them. Consider buying a shredder for your college student to shred pre-approved credit offers. In the wrong hands, those offers can be used for identity theft.
  • Know your rights under FERPA. The Federal Educational Rights and Privacy Act protects the privacy of student records. FERPA requires schools to notify parents and guardians about their school directory policy. It also gives you the right to opt out of the release of directory information to third parties.
  • Get familiar with GPS services on mobile phones. You can use GPS to track where your child is, but others can, too. Tell your kids to limit the use of GPS so they are not broadcasting their location to the world.

All of this is important as ID-theft criminals are using the Social Security numbers of children to obtain employment, rent an apartment, open a utility or bank account, purchase a cellphone or access government benefits. At various life stages, students are completing forms for youth sports and club programs and applying for a driver’s license, an after-school job and financial aid for college. Parents need to teach children to never share their personal information with anyone unless they have a parent’s permission to do so. Parents also need to make sure their children understand that once they post their personal information online, it will be on the Internet forever.

Mark’s Most Important: It’s back to school, and Lesson One needs to be, protect students from ID theft. Learn more about The Federal Educational Rights and Privacy Act and protecting student records.

Mark Pribish is vice president and ID-theft practice leader at Merchants Information Solutions Inc., an ID theft-background screening company based in Phoenix. Contact him at markpribish@merchantsinfo.com.

This article was originally published on AZcentral.com and republished with the author’s permission.

Merchants Information Solutions is a proud sponsors and provides financial support to the ITRC. For more information on the ITRC’s financial support relationships please see our sponsorship policy.