Identity Theft and Middle School Students

Making Sure Your Child Doesn’t Become a Victim of Identity Theft

A recent incident in Virginia demonstrates the importance of being vigilant about preventing identity theft. Lifetouch Inc., a well-known company that photographs students for annual pictures, unintentionally printed student’s social security numbers on their ID cards. The incident sparked the concern of identity theft experts and parents alike, as it has the potential to increase the students’ risk of identity theft.

Why Did They Even Have The Information?

The reason that Lifetouch, Inc. even had access to the students’ social security numbers was because some students at the middle school affected by this mishap, Berkeley Middle School, are still identified by their social security numbers rather than a student ID number. This unfortunate incident highlights the importance of not using one’s social security number as a common means of identification. The social security number was never intended to be a mass means of identifying individuals, but because it is convenient, many businesses opt to identify clients by their social security numbers. This happens frequently at schools and colleges.

What's Going to Happen?

The Berkeley Middle School intends to shred the student ID cards as soon as they receive them. Fortunately, this incident was discovered before the cards were distributed, which lowers the risk of identity theft a bit. Middle School students can easily lose schoolbooks or other important items. Can you just imagine if a student lost his or her ID card and it contained a social security number?

Bringing it to the Forefront

This recent case brings up some important points related to identity theft. If possible, you should refrain from giving your child’s school his or her social security number. When you are filling out any routine forms at the beginning of the school year, simply leave the line blank that asks for your child’s social security number. If you get a follow-up call from the school requesting the information, ask why the school needs it and what they plan to use it for. If they plan to use it for identification purposes, indicate that you would prefer another system or number be used to identify your child. If you do end up providing the social security number, do so in person and not over the phone. The above steps will help to lower your child’s risk of identity theft.

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