May 10, 2018
According to research conducted by Experian, child identity fraud or theft will affect 25% of kids before they turn 18.
As kids get older, it increasingly becomes their responsibility to make safe choices and protect themselves. Why not use Mother’s Day as a good time to remind kids gathered for a family event, that they have to protect their confidential information?
Explain to teenagers that they are targets of information thieves. Identity theft statistics posted this year by Experian showed 13,852 identity theft complaints received by the Federal Trade Commission in 2017 affected children and teens (age 19 and under). Children’s information is targeted because their credit histories are clean slates – and easy to work with. Child identity theft often goes unnoticed for years while thieves open credit cards, mortgages, auto loans or other lines of credit in a child’s name. Teach children what personal information the criminals are after (Social Security/Insurance number, name, address, phone number, email, passwords, birth date, school, and any identifying account number). They should never share this information with anyone online, over the phone, as part of a survey, or in person, without understanding how the information will be used and protected. Make sure they don't post pictures online of anything that shows confidential data like a boarding pass or new driver’s license.
Teens spend a lot of their time today shopping, socializing, and sharing on social networks like Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. Experian reported that 93% of teens ages 15 to17 have mobile access to the internet through a phone, tablet or other devices. It’s important to protect all these devices with the latest IT safeguards such as anti-virus, anti-spam, and firewalls. Ensure they avoid sharing confidential information when using public WiFi and only download from reputable sources (otherwise they could be downloading viruses and malware). They should use physical safeguards too, and never leave devices unattended.
Remember that identity thieves use social media sites to research their targets. Teach your teen to avoid over-sharing on social media, and not to post or share their full name, birthday and/or account numbers. Teach them about fake sites too (links to fake ‘fan sites’ or ‘free stuff’ often are malicious). If asked to download a plug-in or application to watch a video, ensure they think twice (something nasty may come with it) and only accept social media friend requests from people you know personally. Becoming friends with a scammer could allow them to spam their timeline, tag them in posts, and send malicious messages.
Teach teens to create long, strong passwords (a combination of unique and random numbers and letters) and not to share them with others. Make sure they never re-use passwords (this makes it easy for hackers to steal) and consider a password manager.
Parents should be good role models, and keep the home and office clutter-free. Lock doors and windows, use an alarm system and keep valuable documents in a safe. Securely destroy confidential information – on paper or stored on hard drives – that is no longer needed.