It is the parents’ responsibility to protect their children From threats—inccluding identity theft. According to a study by Javelin, 1 in 50 children annually are affected by this crime. The cost to families exceeds $1 billion annually.
Educating children about online privacy and safety now is more important than ever. Read on to see crucial ways to instruct children to help protect their identity and your family’s.
1. Keep personal information private
According to the research, more than 60% of situations involved identity theft by people who the child knew. The first step in protecting children’s identity is to teach children not to overshare. This may include photos, phone numbers, and even their real names to strangers online.
Let them know that it doesn’t matter who asks, and not to give out passwords and other sensitive information to their friends. Tell them they don’t have to let other people access their devices. Teach them how to politely say no, even when it’s a friend asking.
2. Be aware of the games they are playing
Many online games use chat boxes or messaging systems that parents may not be aware of or think of, and these can be potentially dangerous. Talk to your children about the games they are playing and make sure you know how the chat or messaging system works. You should also be aware of what information is being shared in these chats. Even if a child is not using their real name, they may still be sharing personal information that could lead to identity theft or otherwise put their safety at risk.
3. Keep an eye on their social media activity
It can be hard to keep track of everything your children are doing on social media, but its important to do so. Children may not always be aware of the dangers of sharing too much information online, and they could be putting themselves at risk for identity theft as well as other dangers by doing so. Parents should regularly check their children’s social media accounts and talk to them about what information is appropriate to share online.
4. Teach them about phishing scams
Phishing scams are becoming more and more common, and children are often targets. These scams involve someone pretending to be a legitimate company or person in order to get personal information from the victim. Teach your children about phishing scams and how to spot them, so they can avoid becoming a victim.
One key thing everyone should learn, regardless of age, is to look out for clicking any links from unknown sources. For example, scammers might tell children if they click a link then they can get free Robux. This is in exchange for their username and password, and then identity thieves have an in to their account and any personal information it contains.
This can also be suspicious links sent in texts if your child has a cell phone. Also, be sure that any website they visit is the official website. Kids may be less aware of what a fraudulent site looks like, so it’s best to limit their access or help them when they need to surf the web.
5. Read the details of privacy policies
There are so many details and contracts that children can potentially enter into online. Be sure to ask questions if you are unsure about any requirements or if any sensitive information is being shared. Many websites ask for full names and emails as well as phone numbers, and this could potentially put a child at risk if the information gets in the wrong hands.
6. Use passwords that can’t be easily guessed
Passwords are key to protecting online privacy, but it is also important that they can not be easily guessed. Don’t use your birthdate or other easily accessible personal information as passwords. Come up with unique passwords for each account and make sure to change them for your children often.
7. Create a family email address
Many parents create a family email address for the sole purpose of signing up for newsletters and other emails from kid-friendly websites. This is a great way to keep track of what your children are doing online, as well as to monitor their activity. But, it is important that this email address is not used for anything else other than family communication with websites. Do not use this email address for anything else, such as online banking or shopping, just in case it does become compromised.
8. Use multifactor identification to protect children’s identities online
One of the most important tools to use is multi-factor identification (MFI). MFI is a process that requires two or more independent pieces of information in order to verify someone’s identity. This could include something like a password and a fingerprint, or a PIN.
The advantage of MFI is that it makes it much harder for someone to impersonate your child online. Even if they manage to steal your child’s password, they won’t be able to get past the second layer of security. There are a few different ways you can implement MFI for your family. The simplest is to use a password manager.
When you set up an account with one of these services, you’ll create a master password. This is the only password you need to remember, and it gives you access to all of your other passwords. You can also set up two-factor authentication on your child’s email account. This means that they’ll need to enter a code from their phone in addition to their password in order to log in.
9. Pay Close Attention to Bullied Children
Studies have shown that children who were bullied were more vulnerable to identity crimes. In fact, they are more than nine times more likely to be victimized. They may overshare online. They may have social media accounts that are open to the public. They may not know how to spot a scam. As a parent, you can help by monitoring your child’s online activity and being there to offer support and guidance.
Steps You Can Take As A Parent
Parents have access to children’s social security numbers long before the child does. You should do your due diligence before handing out any of your children’s personal identifying information to anyone, including relatives or teachers.
Sharing Children’s Socials
If your child’s school asks for their social security number, ask them why they need it. You can even ask whether using the last four digits of the social is enough. If not, see if they can use a different identifier.
Finally, ask the school how they are storing and securing your child’s information. For example, schools usually allow parents to opt out of sharing of personal information with third parties such as other families. Look out for these options on directory forms.
Personal Information Stored on Electronics
When disposing of used electronics, be sure to take the time to reset the device. Cellphones, tablets, and computers may all potentially have sensitive information. Wipe the memory clean and take out any memory cards or SIM cards that would have sensitive personal information.
Dangers of Child Identity Theft
Many children whose identities were stolen don’t find out until they are adults. Also, the average amount of funds stolen from them cost families up to $737, on average.
Identity thieves target children specifically because they can create a credit file from scratch. Often, their families had to pay even more out of pocket to counteract the fraud and resolve debts.
Signs a Child’s Identity Has Been Stolen
- Benefit denial: If someone is using your child’s social security number, then your family may be denied access to benefit programs like Medicare or SNAP.
- Letters in the mail: Any outside communication regarding past due bills, collections, IRS taxes, or even jury summons indicates your child’s identity may have been compromised.
- Phone calls about bills: If a minor child is getting phone calls regarding their past due bills, this may be attributed to identity theft.
- Denial of Student Loan Applications: When a child is denied a student loan application due to poor credit, this can likely be caused by criminals opening credit cards or taking out loans in their name.
Protect Children’s Identity with Norton LifeLock
We all want to do everything we can to protect our children, and that includes protecting their identities. Norton LifeLock can help you do just that. We offer comprehensive protection that includes features like child account monitoring, credit file monitoring, and more.
Our team offers 24/7 credit monitoring and live customer support. You can rest easy knowing that your children’s identities are safe. Our service plans carry up to $25,000 in reimbursement and $1 million in legal fees. Get protection for two adults and up to five children with our family plan. Sign up today and let us help you keep your children’s identities safe!