ID theft can hit kids, too

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Anyone who has ever registered kids for a youth sports team knows you’re typically required to turn over a birth certificate and share a certain amount of other personal information with the league. Information like photos, addresses, phone numbers and even immunization records, depending on the league.

That’s what makes Bob Montgomery uncomfortable.

Montgomery has coached youth soccer in the Kansas City area for 10 years, and he’s seen enough to believe that youth leagues often handle players’ personal information in a lackadaisical manner that at the very least creates the potential for identity theft.

It’s not that league officials and team managers don’t care, he said. Rather, they may not realize the implications of having so much paperwork with so much personal information.

“You can have 2,500 to 2,700 kids in a soccer program and 12 to 14 teams per age group. … That’s a lot of birth certificates being required every year,” Montgomery said.

Whether it’s soccer clubs or youth basketball, football, baseball or gymnastics, “better and more secure measures” ought to be in place for safekeeping and then destroying kids’ information, he said.

Montgomery read my recent column about how identity thieves are more frequently stealing children’s Social Security numbers, birth certificates, photographs and other information to obtain credit cards, apply for loans and land a job.

I’m not trying to panic parents or imply that volunteers or community officials who run these youth activities shouldn’t be trusted. Heck no.

But I firmly believe parents should try to control how much of their kids’ personal information is floating around and be aware of how the records are stored.

It’s difficult to pinpoint whether youth sports organizations or any other extracurricular activity for your kids are fresh ground for identity thieves. According to the San Diego-based Identity Theft Resource Center, numerous studies show that less than half of identity theft victims have any idea where their identity was compromised.

Some tips for parents from Nikki Junker, social media manager and victim adviser at the Identity Theft center:

» If a sports organization asks for a child’s Social Security number, ask why it’s needed and determine if the reason is legitimate.

» Parents should provide the least amount of information about their children on forms or other paperwork. Ask the administrator or the coach what information is absolutely essential and which is optional. “Show the original copy, but don’t turn it over,” Junker said.

» If the information is being stored in a computer, ask what security features are in place.

For more information, go to

Contact Steve Rosen, a personal finance columnist at The Kansas City Star, at

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