New tool for back-to-school

It used to be that the biggest issues at back-to-school time were finding everything on the school supplies list and remembering who likes the crusts cut off the brown bag PB&J.  But nowadays, responsible adults need to consider the risks if children’s personal information — like a Social Security number on a registration form, permission slip, or health document — winds up in the wrong hands. When kids are victims of identity theft, the crime may go undetected for years.  But by the time they’re old enough to get a job or apply for a student loan, the damage has been done.

That’s why the FTC has published Protecting Your Child’s Personal Information at School, a new brochure (also available in Spanish) filled with tips on reducing the risks of kids’ identity theft.

How can you use this new resource?

Get out in front.  Lots of people assume business executives and attorneys are a step ahead when it comes to data security.  So a word from you carries weight.  Start the school year off on the right foot by sharing the brochure with family and friends.

Talk it up at school.  Print out a copy for your kid’s teacher and principal. Send a link to the editor of the parents’ newsletter or email update who may be looking for content early in the semester. Keep youth group leaders and coaches in the loop, too.

Work your network.  Maybe you’re in the financial or tech sector.  Perhaps you represent retailers or volunteer with a non-profit. There’s not an issue more “apple pie” than protecting kids’ personal information. Use the new publication to spread the word in your professional community and via your social network.

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And while we’re talking fraud prevention, remember that scammers have been sending out fake emails claiming to come from the FTC.  A typical message says that somebody’s filed a complaint about your company and asks you to click on a link to respond.  It look legit enough with agency logos and phone numbers from the “Consumer Protection Department.”  But clicking could download malware on your computer.

So no, the email isn’t from us.

Yes, it’s a scam.

And yes, it takes some chutzpah.

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