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Protect Kids, Parents Online

MoneyWise

Christian talk radio with Rob West

August 12, 2022

We’ve reported many times how identity thieves target seniors. Now it seems they’re going after kids, too. And it’s way more common than you might think. We'll talk about how you can protect your kids and elderly parents today on MoneyWise. According to the research firm Javelin, 1. 25 million children have their identities stolen each year. And sadly, most of those victims actually know the perpetrators, meaning their often family or friends. Meanwhile, the Federal Trade Commission gets about 170, 000 complaints for elderly identity theft annually, but some analysts say that figure is far below the actual number because many seniors are embarrassed about being defrauded and don’t report it. If you have children or elderly parents, here’s what you can do to protect them, and if you haven’t taken these steps to safeguard your own finances, now’s the best time to do it. ACTION STEPS First, make sure that the information in your accounts is correct, including name, home address, mobile phone, and personal email address. Then make sure you’re using a strong and unique password for each account. You can subscribe to a password manager app to help with that. It’ll probably advise you to change your passwords when they’re a year old. Also, don’t store lists of passwords on your computer or on sticky notes next to it. If an account offers two-factor authentication, use it. This might mean having a PIN number sent to your mobile phone when you try to access an account. You can also sign up for email or text notifications for things like a password reset, address change, failed login attempts, and funds withdrawal. Then, pay attention to those alerts. If you get one for an activity you didn’t initiate, notify the company immediately, and always look at your monthly statements for anything fishy. For a monthly fee, you can sign up for identity theft protection with a company like LifeLock, Identity Guard, or Norton. You can also sign up for something called Informed Delivery with the Post Office. It’ll notify you when packages are on the way so you can track them and get them inside before porch pirates can steal them. And of course, watch your mailbox and take in your mail promptly to avoid theft there. FREEZING YOUR CREDIT Now, probably the best thing you can do to protect your identity (and that of your kids and elderly parents) is to freeze your credit and theirs at the three credit reporting bureaus, Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax. You can do that online, by phone, or by mail. A freeze blocks anyone’s attempt to get access to your credit reports. So if an identity thief tries to open an account or take out a loan in your name, the lender can’t see your credit report, and they’ll automatically deny the loan or decline to open the account. You must sign up to freeze your credit at each of the three bureaus individually. You’ll need to provide your Social Security number, date of birth, and address, and then depending on how you sign up online, by phone, or by mail you may need to provide copies of your passport, driver’s license, or military I'D, tax forms, bank statements or a utility bill. It’s free to freeze your credit and free to lift the freeze. By the way, it doesn’t affect your credit score. Once you sign up, you can obtain a PIN or password to freeze and unfreeze your credit reports as needed. And of course, all of that applies if you're trying to freeze the credit of an elderly parent, as well. But what if you want to freeze your child’s credit? Again, you would contact the three credit bureaus individually. When you request the freeze, the bureaus will have to create credit files for your child before they can freeze them. You’ll have to provide the child’s Social Security number, date of birth, address, and a copy of the child’s birth certificate designating you as a parent, which authorizes you to freeze the child’s credit. You’ll also want to limit the amount of personal information you post on social media, and that includes yourself as well as your children and elderly parents. Keep addresses, birthdays, and phone numbers out of social media. And while you’re at it, beef up the privacy settings on all of your social media platforms and apps. Scammers need very little information to get a foothold on stealing someone’s identity. On today’s program, Rob also answers listener questions: ● What steps should you take to invest savings at age 25? ● At age 65 should you be investing in the market? ● Should you tithe on insurance death benefits proceeds? ● Is it a good idea to invest in cryptocurrency? ● What kind of capital gain might you expect on inherited property? RESOURCES MENTIONED: ● Betterment ● Wealthfront ● Schwab Intelligent Portfolios ● Vanguard digital adviser

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