It’s back to school time and many of you may have papers from the school or enrollment cards to fill out. Maybe you are sending a child off to preschool for the first time and need to fill out the admission forms. There sure is a lot of information required but what you might not know is that there is also a great deal of information shared, maybe more than you would like.
Social Security Numbers
Social Security Numbers are not required in order for your child to attend school – any school. Schools may not require the use of your child’s social security number for attendance. According to federal law, social security numbers are not valid forms of identification and cannot be required (remember when you used to write your SSN on checks too?) It’s your decision, but before you fill the form in remember this, every teacher, counselor, administrative official, and office worker in the entire school district has access to that information now.
Don’t just take my word for it, the Social Security Administration shares, “Schools are putting children at risk of identity fraud by obtaining their Social Security numbers when it is not required by law and often unnecessary,” the Social Security Administration’s Office of Inspector General has concluded.
“We believe such practices increase the risk of SSN misuse and unnecessarily subject students to the possibility of identity theft, investigators said in the report, which noted the growing number of identity theft victims who are under the age of 19. “Identity thieves often target children because they have clean credit histories, and their records may be used for years before they realize their identity has been used for criminal activities.”
Name, address, telephone number, date of birth
You have to include this information on your paperwork; however, you are not required to provide a home telephone number. As long as you provide an emergency contact like your cell phone or office number the paper work is complete. Dates of birth are required in order to ensure that every child attending school is meeting the date of birth deadlines.
Permissions and Permission “Slips”
You may find that there are a great many permission forms that you are signing, such as can your child use the computer, have their picture taken, have their picture used by the school or school district and permission to include your contact information in the class or school directory But did you know that these permissions in many schools extends to providing this information to any parent who calls in and makes the “proper” request. Any parent could call in and request your name, address and telephone number. Maybe they just want to invite your child to a birthday party or maybe they have something else in mind.
In May 2010 a Broward County teacher was sentenced to 5 years in prison for the identity theft of her several of her high school students.
Former Pittsburgh area school teacher Jason Joy was arrested for identity theft this year, of friends, family, and former students and using it to commit eBay fraud.
Children are one of the highest risk groups to be victims of identity theft. This is mainly because it will take so long to figure it out. Your 5 year old could have their information used for identity theft and no one would even know it until he or she applies for student loans or financial aid, credit cards or purchases a car. That’s a long time to have to spend someone else’s money.
Remember, most forms of identity theft and credit card fraud occur as a result of putting bits and pieces of information together to form a whole new identity. Your address can be used to steal your mail and accept credit card offers or simply use an existing credit card by completing the change of address form.
It’s up to you who you want to have your information, so before you check that box “YES” to sharing information to the students, teachers and parents or anyone who asks be sure you want that the convenience of that free student directory is one that won’t cost you a lifetime of debt.
Personal experience as educator and mom