Dear Readers: Your young child may have a play date with a friend, a T-ball lesson, a scavenger hunt, a piano lesson, a boat loan and a mortgage. Wait, a boat loan and a mortgage?!

If your child has a Social Security number, it’s at risk of being stolen. A bad guy can use a stolen Social Security number to rent an apartment, get utilities, apply for government assistance, open credit cards and even file taxes and have medical procedures!

It’s identity theft, and kids are at risk. And because they are kids, it could be YEARS before you find out. Here are some hints:

● Check their mail carefully. Shred any preapproved offers. Force the company to remove the child’s name from its mailing list.

● Teach even young kids to not give out their name, date of birth, phone number or address to ANYONE face to face, over the phone or online.

● Contact all three credit bureaus — Equifax (equifax.com), Experian (experian.com) and TransUnion (transunion.com) — and request a copy of your child’s credit report.

● The Federal Trade Commission (consumer.ftc.gov) can help you draft letters to address ID theft with any companies involved.

● If something has occurred, place a fraud alert on your child’s credit report. This will last 90 days.

Your child’s credit is important. Keep it monitored and unfettered.

Dear Heloise: When I'm picking up my friends, I text them instead of calling them, honking the horn or ringing the doorbell. This will keep the dog quiet and the baby asleep.

Devin W. in Pennsylvania

Dear Heloise: I just came from the eye doctor; here's what she told me about my dry eyes: They can come from allergies, diabetes, meds and eyestrain.

My diet, air pollution, how many candles on my birthday cake and my lifestyle all can contribute to dry eye. Also, I've read that technology is a leading cause of eyestrain.

When I'm at the computer or on my phone, I'm blinking a lot less than average, which is about twice that. More time between blinks allows more time for eye fluid to evaporate.

Talk to your eye doctor about eyestrain; mine recommended warm cloths on my eyes, some moisturizing drops and a short break every 15 minutes while working on the computer.

Harry S. in New York

Dear Heloise: I buy a lot of items through those neighborhood "swap meet" apps. My most important questions: Where did you get this item, and what can you tell me about this item?

If the person hesitates, I'll feel uncomfortable about the transaction. Naturally, I don't want to buy or trade for stolen merchandise.

Julie W. in Texas

Dear Heloise: I saw the mention of slowing down around the elderly in your column in the San Antonio Express-News. I'd like to add that people should also watch for others (young or old) who are using crutches, walkers or canes. They can lose their balance just as easily.

Carol, via email

Heloise’s column appears six days a week at washingtonpost.com/advice. Send a hint to Heloise, P.O. Box 795001, San Antonio, TX 78279-5000, or email it to Heloise@Heloise.com.

2019, King Features Syndicate