As a parent or guardian, you want to do everything you can to keep your children safe. Unfortunately, there are people out there who will use that against you. Scammers peddling child safety kits are actually searching for information to steal your child’s identity. Here’s how to tell the difference.
Identity kits are a smart way to guard against every parent’s worst nightmare. If your child goes missing, the information in the kit can help law enforcement find them. Instead of scrambling for vital information, you can simply hand over the prepared packet and give the investigators a jump start on finding your child.
The basic kits contain essential information such as a physical description, urgent medical information, and a recent photo. More advanced kits may also have fingerprints and even a lock of hair for DNA samples.
“Safety kits are definitely a great tool for law enforcement and parents, because it cuts down the speed time trying to figure out where a kid may have gone or who they’re with,” Corporal Kenneth Hibbert told TODAY Parents, emphasizing the importance of having the kit ready to go. “Nine times out of ten they’re probably with a friend or a relative — somebody that they are really close to.”
Scammers run ads on social media or reach out to families directly to peddle cheap or free ID kits. They will emphasize the dangers, creating a sense of urgency, and pressure parents or guardians to give over information without taking time to think about it.
The first red flag is getting a cold call about a child safety kit service. Be very skeptical about the legitimacy of the company. Take your time and research it online by searching for “company name + scam.”
However, the biggest warning sign is if the representative or online registration form asks for your child’s Social Security Number. That is not information to include in your kit and is a clear indicator that the scammers want to steal your child’s identity.
With a full name, address, and SSN, scammers can take out a line of credit in your child’s name. This can have lasting repercussions on the child’s credit score before they reach the age of 18. You should pull your child’s credit report once a year to make sure that it remains clear.
Instead of falling for a potential scam, just make your own identity kit at home for free! You can download free, printable templates or simply write down the following information on a sheet of paper:
You can also include a full set of fingerprints, as well as a lock of hair. However, those are less essential than the information listed above. Do print out a current photo, and keep it as well as the physical description updated every six months.
Store the ID kit in a safe, easy-to-access place inside a waterproof pouch or envelope. Hopefully you’ll never need it–but if you do, the information you gathered could help save your child’s life.