JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- John Owen knows what it feels like to be a victim of identity theft. It happened 14 years ago.
"It was no fund, no fun at all," said Owen.
He is now more vigilant and protective of his name. "I keep up with my wife and my children," he said. "People forget about the kids, they try to get the kids because nobody even checks the kids."
Tyler Wildman, CEO of Identity Theft Countermeasures group, has made it his job to check. For the past four years, Wildman's specialty has been training businesses like schools and doctors' offices on ways to protect their clients' information, especially children.
"Sixty-eight percent of identities that are stolen today are physically stolen out of companies," said Wildman.
In an assessment at the Broach School, Orange Park Campus, he was able to point out weaknesses that could lead to a child's identity being stolen.
"They had an older copier and they were going to get rid of it and I pointed that there was data stored and where it was stored so they can remove it before the company comes to get the copier back," said Wildman.
Deborah Broach, the school marketing director, called his quick assessment 'eye opening.'
"We lock things up, but there are simple things...he was telling us about our sign-in booklet, that is at our front receptionist desk. When a parent comes to check out a student, how easy it would be to capture that person's name," said Broach.
While his focus is on business, he said parents can also be educated in ways to protect their child's identity from thieves, and they need to do so. "An identity thief would rather steal a child's identity because they can use it for a longer period of time," said Wildman.
So what can you do as a parent?
- Pull a credit report using your child's social security number, see if it is being used.
- Subscribe to a service that will monitor the use of his/her Social Security number.
- Shred mail that is in your child's name.
- Watch your buying habits online.
- Do not give out your child's information so freely.
Starting next month the Social Security Adminstration will change the way it issues numbers to make it harder for identity thieves to steal your information.
For more information visit: www.ftc.gov
First Coast News