(WETM) — The first day of school is just a few weeks away. By this point in the summer, you’ve probably already started to prepare for the new year with back-to-school shopping.
In addition to making sure your kids have all of the supplies they need, you should be taking some extra steps to protect their personal information. New York Department of State’s Division of Consumer Protection released some tips to help parents protect their children’s personal information before they go back to school.
As you’re labeling your child’s new lunchbox, backpack, and books, make sure you keep their name on the inside. It’s okay to have your child’s initials visible on their belongings, but even just a first name or nickname should not be visible. Strangers being able to see your child’s name can put your child in a dangerous situation. Knowing a child’s name makes it easier for strangers/predators to pretend they know a child or the child’s parents.
In general, it’s a good idea to be selective when it comes to disclosing your child’s information. As you’re filling out paperwork for sports, clubs, and other after-school activities, including some of your child’s personal information is necessary. Your child’s Social Security Number, however, is probably not necessary. If a form asks for your child’s Social Security Number, ask why it’s needed and if another identifier can be used instead. Organizations often ask for a Social Security Number as a formality and don’t actually require one.
The first day of school can be very exciting, and a lot of parents and older students choose to share this big day on social media. Before posting pictures of your kid’s first day of school outfit, think about who might see your post. Changing your privacy settings can prevent people with bad intentions from seeing your posts, but some information should be kept off of social media anyway. A child’s full name and the name of their school should not be posted online. Make sure your kid’s schedule isn’t posted online, either.
Before sending your kids back to school, give them a refresher course about internet safety. Kids should be told to be careful about opening suspicious emails, clicking on suspicious links, and sharing their information online.
For more safety tips, visit the Division of Consumer Protection’s website.