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Protecting Your School Backpack From Identity Theft Risk

Parent taking child with a backpack to school.
By Lisa M. Schaffer, Esq. on September 04, 2018 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Identity theft is an adult's worse nightmare. Everyone has heard examples of innocent victims being held responsible for the debts of the perpetrators, leading to tax problems and even bankruptcy. Adults take so many steps to prevent this, whether it be dropping outgoing mail off at the post office, changing passwords monthly, or viciously interrogating anyone that asks for a social security number.

But what about our kids? Could they unknowingly be the chink in the armor parents have so strongly built? Perhaps! So let's batten down the hatches, starting with their backpack.

What's in Your Backpack?

Most kids carry a cell phone or laptop/tablet in their backpack. Steal a kid's backpack, and a thief can steal a parent's identity. Many children store username and password information, as well as other people's emails, on Notes apps in these devices. Thieves can easily open these apps to find all sorts of ways to piece together a puzzle to infiltrate your life. And once in, they can quickly crack your security armor. To prevent this, make sure your children use a very secure password to access the device. Also, make sure they log out of all software they use, even Netflix, so that if the device is hacked, the apps are not.

House keys also present a problem. If an adult loses a briefcase, which often contains keys and a driver's license, we know to call a locksmith ASAP. But parents might forget that kids do carry emergency house keys in their backpack, and there may be something in there that gives the house's address. Maybe it's written on the backpack's ID badge? Maybe there's an envelope or letter addressed to your home in the bag? A thief can break into your home during the day, stealing all sorts of financial documents to make for an effortless identity theft coup.

Make sure your children don't carry any of these items in their backpack. And if you feel there must be some contact information on the ID badge, try a parent's or school's telephone number instead.

RFID-Blocking Gear

Sophisticated thieves have upped their game by carrying Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) scanners, which lift personal information from items normally carried in a purse or backpack, such as debit or credit cards. Credit card companies are adopting contactless payment cards as an even easier way to physically pay for things. (Do we really need that?!) But this also created an RFID security breach issue. These cards can be "skimmed" without ever leaving your, or your child's, possession. To guard against this, have your child carry any credit or debit cards in an RFID blocking slot in their backpack, or in an RFID blocking wallet.

If you or your children have been the victims of identity theft, contact an identity theft attorney. Thieves have been known to establish identity using a minor's information, which can create insurmountable problems that remain undiscovered until after the damage has festered for years.

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