Voice of the consumer: Back-to-school is great time to protect kids

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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KKTV) - 11 News lead Call For Action investigator Katie Pelton pens a weekly column for our news partner The Gazette. Previous columns can be found here.

As your kids and grandkids are headed back to school, now is the time to think about how to keep them safe from scammers and thieves.

The biggest thing you can do is freeze your child’s credit. Like I’ve told you before, a law went into effect last fall that allows parents to freeze their child’s credit on their behalf. It’s free and it can help protect your kids from identity theft and fraud.

The Federal Trade Commission says minors typically don’t have credit reports so they may not find out about issues with their credit until they first try to get loans. A security freeze makes it harder for thieves to open new accounts.

Under the new law, it’s free to freeze or unfreeze your child’s credit. In order to do so, you need to contact all three credit reporting bureaus. You can find out more information on www.identitytheft.gov/creditbureaucontacts or call each of the agencies: Equifax: 800-685-1111; Experian: 888-397-3742; and TransUnion: 888-909-8872.

According to the Colorado Bureau of Investigation, in the past if your child did not have a credit report, you couldn’t place a freeze. But under the new law, the credit agencies must create a credit report for your kid and then place a freeze on it. The bureau also warns that you should make sure you ask for a credit freeze not a lock. It doesn’t offer the same protection and could cost you money. The credit freeze is free of charge.

The state agency is sharing other tips about how to keep younger kids safe, such as asking your child’s school how they will protect your kid’s personal information. The agency also says you should make sure to secure important documents in a safe place in your home or in a safe deposit box. You can also check your child’s computer and phone to make sure they are updated with the latest security programs.

We know kids use technology at a younger age now, which is why it’s so important to keep an eye on what they’re doing online. The Colorado Bureau of Investigation warns that it’s easy for thieves and scammers to steal information from kids and teens online, so it’s important to teach them about internet safety at a young age.

If you are the victim of fraud of identity theft, you can contact the CBI using its Identity Theft and Fraud Hotline at 855-443-3489. You can also file an online report with the Colorado Attorney General’s Office at stopfraudcolorado.gov/.

Click here to read the original column on gazette.com.