According to Cifas, a not-for-profit fraud prevention membership organisation, 2017 saw a 30% increase in the number of people under 21 who were victims of identity fraud. It’s a figure that’s likely to increase as more and more information is stored electronically, including in the school system. While it’s impossible to completely remove the risk that your child’s data will be stolen, there are things you can do to help stop it happening.
1. Don’t provide information just because you’re asked
With the school year just starting, it’s a good bet most parents will have been inundated with forms asking for information on their child, including who can pick them up at school and if they have any medical conditions. These forms often ask for additional information, date of birth, for example. Some of this information will be needed to keep school records up-to-date, some of it won’t. If you aren’t sure why you’re being asked, or are uncomfortable providing information, don’t do it until you find out more.
2. Find out how information is stored and why it’s needed
With the introduction of the General Data Protection Regulations earlier this year, requirements around how data is stored and used were tightened significantly. There were special provisions included in the regulations for schools. This includes clearly saying how they are using information you provide and offering the option for you to request that information is removed from their systems.
3. Ask who has access to the information
Not everyone in a school should be able to see your child’s information, but it’s important to check that this is the case and that all records are stored securely. Check visitors can’t access files when visiting the school. If your school doesn’t have one, suggest they get a visitor management system to reduce risk.
Understand what happens to copies of documents
As well as asking for information, schools may ask for copies of documents such as birth certificates to confirm your child’s eligibility to attend school. Once these have been viewed, ask where they will be kept and for how long. Usually there will be an assigned reception team that will have everything filled away safely under lock and key. The team will be well manned and hopefully have comfortable office chairs to sit on as a typical school day is seven o’clock until about 4. If the team feel they need a new set of seating for parents and visitors they could pop over to sites like https://www.bestbuy-officechairs.co.uk/reception-chairs/ where they will find some great Reception Chairs. If you aren’t confident they will be kept safe, ask for the copy to be destroyed.