Protect your kids from ID theft

Sleeping childYour child could have their credit report ruined and their ID stolen while they sleep and it might be years before you would be aware that anything is amiss. Underage kids are prime targets of ID theft. A story today on states with the most identity theft complaints explains how some population segments are particularly vulnerable to ID theft:

“While everyone is vulnerable to identity theft, children and elderly people are targeted more than others, although for different reasons. According to Toporoff, children are prime targets because their information is readily available as it is stored within a school system. In addition, almost no one monitors a child’s credit report. This means a child’s stolen identity can often be used for years before the misuse is even detected.

Elderly Americans are vulnerable to identity theft for a host of reasons. They are targeted because often they have more money than younger Americans. They also tend to have more contact with medical establishments, with multiple specialists, and with multiple people such as caretakers entering their homes more often. This may partly explain the nation-leading rate of identity thefts in Florida, where nearly 19% of the population was 65 and over in 2013, the highest proportion in the country.”

How could a child’s ID be compromised? Unfortunately, all too many ways: It could happen from a large data breach, like the Anthem exposure of millions of sensitive records; it could be exposed from school records that are improperly protected; it could be exposed from a computer hack or a stolen wallet; perhaps even worse, it could be stolen by an adult that you know.

How can you protect your children from identity theft? The Federal Trade Commission offers excellent advice on monitoring and protecting your children from identity theft. They offer great ways to spot warning signs that something might be amiss, ways to protect your child’s identity, and steps to take if you have problems.

Here are some prevention tips from the FTC:

  • Find a safe location for all paper and electronic records that show your child’s personal information
  • Don’t share your child’s Social Security number unless you know and trust the other party. Ask why it’s necessary and how it will be protected. Ask if you can use a different identifier, or use only the last four digits of your child’s Social Security number.
  • Shred all documents that show your child’s personal information before throwing them away.
  • Be aware of events that put information at risk. For example, there’s an adult in your household who might want to use a child’s identity to start over; you lose a wallet, purse or paperwork that has your child’s Social Security information; there’s a break-in at your home; or a school, doctor’s office or business notifies you that your child’s information was affected by a security breach.

The FTC also suggests a number of steps you should take if you’re a parent with a child who’s enrolled in school, such as finding out who has access to your child’s information, how information is used and how it’s shared.

There are also a number of identity protection and fraud monitoring services on the market – check with your local insurance agent to see if they offer any services as part of their insurance packages.

Check your kids’ outdoor play spaces for National Playground Safety Week

playground funAs the weather improves, more and more kids turn to outside activities in public and private playgrounds. This week is National Playground Safety week, a good time for parents to review the safety of the outdoor places where kids play. The National Program for Playground Safety (NPPS) offers a great Summer Safety Checklist for the top ten summer playground safety tips.

Some of the key issues are adult supervision and age appropriate equipment. See the NPPS guidelines for Age-Appropriate Design – NPPS recommends that adults be proactive in selecting age appropriate equipment and requesting separate play areas for different age groups – 6 months through 23 months, ages 2 to 5, and 5 to 12. These areas should be marked by signage indicating the age-appropriate areas. They offer guidance for each of these age groups.

Other considerations are appropriate fall surface materials, shelter from weather, and avoidance of any strings or ropes on equipment. They also say that kids should not wear bicycle helmets on playground equipment because they can be caught and may cause strangulation. It could be an easy mistake for a parent to think a helmet was offering an added layer of protection! See more NPPS tips at Playground Head to Toe Safety.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission offers a variety of safety resources on various topics related to playgrounds, as well as these guides:

Outdoor Home Playground Safety Handbook (PDF)
Public Safety Playground Handbook (English) and (Spanish) 

Boston Marathon Monday Toolkit

marathonIt’s 42 with drizzle at the race starting line.  Watch the Boston Marathon live starting at 9:30

Athlete tracking
Boston Marathon Twitter feed
Boston Marathon Facebook

Spectator Security guidelines for Boston Marathon
Which roads are closed on Marathon Monday
Boston Marathon interactive map – Find Viewing Spots, T Stops and More With This Interactive Course Map

There are more than 30,000 runners this year – here are start times
2015 Boston Marathon Official Start Times

Start Time / Division / Approx No. of Entrants
8:50 – Mobility Impaired – 50
9:17 – Push-Rim Wheelchair -70 (plus 6 duos)
9:22 – Handcycles – 18
9:32 – Elite Women – 40
10:00 – Elite Men and Wave One – 7,500
10:25 – Wave Two – 7,500
10:50 – Wave Three – 7,500
11:15 – Wave Four – 7,500


Retirement planning procrastination wastes the advantage of compound interest

Many people procrastinate when it comes to saving for retirement … but the earlier you start, the more compounding interest works in your favor.

Financial Engines conducted a survey to better to better understand why people procrastinate on their retirement savings. They learned that most of those those surveyed identified 25 as the right age to begin planning and saving for retirement, but that most had started much later than that: an average of 10.6 years later than they thought they should have.

They attributed that delay in retirement savings to various reasons:

  • 50% – stress
  • 40% – other, higher priorities
  • 24% – worried about being
  • 23% – unsure how to go about it
  • 20% – believed it was too difficult

While people think they can make up for it later — and sometimes they can — every year of delay squanders the advantage of compound interest. To reach the same savings goal, they would need to save more each year to make up for any missed investment growth, as well as any missed employer matches, if available.

The following graphic depicts the percent of income that would need to be saved each year to reach the savings goal.

delayYou can learn more about the benefits of time by playing with with this compound interest calculator.

But the better-late-than-never rule comes into play – even if you missed out on the advantage of an early start, the sooner you do begin the better, so don’t delay. Here are some tips offered by  Financial Engines for late starters:

late-startFor more information on the cost of procrastination, see their complete infographic.

Money Matters: 48 Mistakes, 7 Quizzes and 5 Cool Learning Tools

Money TreeApril is financial literacy month. How savvy are you about money? This fun article will let you chart your age based on your savings habits. To commemorate the month, we’ve put together a financial wellness toolkit for you to learn common money mistakes, to test your own financial knowledge and find good learning resources to improve your knowledge.

Common Money Mistakes

 Test Your Money Savvy

 Resources for Learning to Manage Money

360 Days of Financial Literacy
A free program by the nation’s certified public accountants to help Americans understand personal finances through every stage of life. Check out the more than 30 financial calculators.

Unbiased insurance information for consumers sponsored by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC). Information is organized by life stage and lines of coverage: auto insurance, home insurance, health insurance and life insurance.
Making the most of your money starts with five building blocks for managing and growing your money. MyMoney.Gov offers tools and information on five key areas of money management: Earnings; Saving & investing; Protecting; Spending; and Borrowing.

Jump$tart Coalition for Personal Financial Literacy
a national non-profit of about 150 national organizations and entities from the corporate, non-profit, academic, government and other sectors that share an interest in advancing financial literacy among students in pre-kindergarten through college.

30 Steps to Financial Wellness
A 30 step path will help you achieve financial wellness.