A new school year usually means filling out paperwork such as registration forms, health forms, and emergency contact forms. Many school forms require personal and sensitive information that, in the wrong hands, could be used to commit fraud in your child’s name.
For example, criminals can use a child’s Social Security number to apply for government benefits, open bank and credit card accounts, or rent a place to live, and the crime may go undetected for years – or at least until the child is old enough to apply for a job or a loan, or wants to rent an apartment.
A new publication from the Federal Trade Commission, Protecting Your Child’s Personal Information at School, advises parents how to limit the risks of identity theft. It also explains the federal Family Educational Rights Privacy Act, which protects the privacy of student records and gives parents of school-age children the right to opt out of sharing contact information with third parties. In addition, the publication advises parents to ask their child’s school about its directory information policy, to learn about privacy policies of sports or music activities not formally sponsored by the school, and what to do if their child’s school experiences a data breach.
The Federal Trade Commission works for consumers to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices and to provide information to help spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint in English or Spanish, visit the FTC’s online Complaint Assistant or call
1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357). The FTC enters complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to more than 2,000 civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad. The FTC’s website provides free information on a variety of consumer topics. Like the FTC on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.