Certified Public Accountants
   Be Very Aware
October is National Cyber Security Awareness MonthWith its theme of Our Shared Responsibility, we are continuing our efforts to help you and your families stay safe.  This newsletter will focus on Child Identity Theft, but we also want to remind you of these basic data security tips as the October tax return deadline fast approaches:
  • Please DO NOT send sensitive information by email!
  • Please DO use our secure portal for submitting your documents
  • Use strong passwords for all your online accounts and devices, and multi-factor authentication when available
  • Don't fall for disaster-related scams - use this IRS tool to check qualified charities before donating (even if you recognize the name, the website may be bogus)
  • Protect your personal information and remember that the IRS, SSA, and other organizations will not call or email you to verify social security numbers or other sensitive information
More tips and advice from the STOP. THINK. CONNECT. campaign

As one of the nation's fastest growing crimes, it has been estimated that 1 in 4 minors may experience identity theft or fraud.  Equally shocking is that half of the victims are under age 6 - why is this happening? 

Stealing a child's identity is especially lucrative for criminals because the theft often goes undetected for many years. Sometimes a social security number is stolen shortly after birth, and since credit issuers do not always verify the age of the recipient, the number is used to create a "synthetic identity." A new, pristine credit file is created and accessed for years to obtain credit cards, bank accounts, loans, and utility or cell phone services, rent a place to live, and apply for health insurance or government benefits. Often parents have no idea that a credit file exists and that their child's identity has been stolen until they apply for financial aid for college!

What are the warning signs of Child Identity Theft?
  • Numerous pre-approved credit card offers in your child's name (or a slightly different name), especially if your child doesn't have a bank account 
  • An IRS notice that your child didn't pay income taxes or that your child's social security number was already used on another tax return
  • Collection agency calls or bills for products or services never ordered
  • Your child is denied a driver's license or government assistance because there is already an account assigned to your child
  • Your older child is unable to open a bank account or is denied credit or a loan for college tuition
How can you protect your children?
  • Safeguard personal information!  Keep Social Security cards locked up and never give out SSN's and other personal information unless it is mandatory - always ask first, and then ask how the information will be protected
  • Documents that must be retained should be locked away; everything else containing personal information should be shredded - including credit card solicitations, bank statements, etc.
  • Teach your children the risks of sharing personal information, especially their SSN, but also their birth date, address and phone number - this applies to social media and other online sites, but also to school and extracurricular activities
  • Keep all your family's devices and accounts protected with strong passwords, anti-virus software and current updates; don't use unsecured Wi-Fi; and never click suspicious links or download unfamiliar software or apps
  • Check for a credit report when your child is approaching age 16
  • Consider subscribing to third-party services for credit monitoring and/or checking your child's SSN 
What if you suspect your child is a victim?
  • Check your child's credit report immediately!  If there is no report, that is good news - but if your minor child has a credit file, you should notify the Credit Reporting Agencies
  • Notify the police and the Federal Trade Commission
  • Keep good records and copies of correspondence - it could take years to repair the damage

Check out BCPAG's  Data Security Policies and ID Theft Guide on our website

Nancy Carter
Boulder CPA Group
Boulder CPA Group