Remember the last time you were on an airplane and heard, “Should the cabin lose pressure, oxygen masks will drop from the overhead bins. Please place the oxygen mask over your own mouth and nose first before assisting others.”

As a mom, that’s somewhat startling to hear because your instinct is to always put your children first and yourself second. But, just like in the case of an airplane emergency, moms sometimes have to put themselves first in order to best protect themselves and their children.

This also applies in the case of identity theft protection. Adults and children are both vulnerable to having their identities stolen. It’s important to make sure your identity is protected from criminals and then extend that protection to your children, so your lives aren’t turned upside down because of identity theft.

What Happens if You or Your Child’s Identity is Stolen?

Criminals can use you or your child’s stolen Social Security number (SSN) and other personal information to open new credit cards and other credit lines, make fraudulent purchases, change your billing address and even obtain a driver’s license in you or your child’s name. This criminal activity can negatively affect you and your children’s lives for years.

How to Keep Personal Information Safe

Here are identity theft protection tips that you can implement to help protect yourself and your children.

The primary way for a criminal to steal you or your child’s identity is with a SSN. Only share your or your child’s SSN and other identifying information with trustworthy organizations for official purposes, such as school registration. Whenever you do submit personal information, ask how the organization protects it.

If you receive a call or email requesting information about you or your child, don’t immediately assume it’s legitimate. Hang up and call the organization back at its official phone number. Do the same with email, and don’t click on a link within a suspicious email.

Shred any documents with you or your child’s personal information before you throw them away or recycle them.

Monitoring your identity and credit is essential to protecting yourself. A credit and identity monitoring service can help provide you with alerts when your SSN is used, so you can act quickly if your personal information is at risk. In certain plans, you can add your children for family protection.