Children’s Identity Theft

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Another busy holiday season filled with gift giving and shopping bags from the Pleasant Prairie Premium OutletsMayfair or perhaps Gurnee Mill Shopping Center, is upon us. It is no surprise that electronic and mobile devices are expected to be a popular choice for recipients of all ages … laptops, tablets, smartphones, gaming devices, etc.

Unfortunately, along with these great gifts come an increased risk of identity theft.  And, far too often, we tend to forget that children’s identity theft, regardless of age, is a real and growing issue, especially through the use of electronic devices.

Thankfully, there are a few steps you can take, as a parent, to help decrease the risk of your child becoming a victim of identity theft … now and throughout the year.

Install anti-virus and parental control software on ALL electronic devices in your home.

The internet is a wonderful resource, but there are many dangers for children.

  • Consider keeping the computer and/or electronic devices in a part of the house where it will be easy to monitor what children are up to.
  • Routinely monitor their activity to see what websites they are visiting.
  • Be clear with your children about your rules and expectations for them when using the internet.
  • Be sure to update all software regularly – including the anti-virus and parental control software.

Talk to your children about the risks of the internet.

On-line supervision is important but realize that you may not always be with your child every time they are on-line.

  • Teach your child about avoiding potential on-line threats.
  • Keep the conversation on-going about internet predators, cyberbullying, and identity theft.
  • Have a conversation about protecting their sensitive personal information. Speak to them about what information should be always kept private.
  • Make sure they know that passwords, social security numbers and other personal information should never be shared.
  • Most importantly, encourage your child to let you know if they have experienced any upsetting or strange encounters while online.

Limit the amount of information YOU share about your children through social media.

Always keep in mind that your on-line activity can impact your child.

  • As a parent, avoid listing your maiden name on social media accounts such as Facebook. Your mother’s maiden name is one of the most common account security questions asked to verify identity.
  • Avoid posting pictures and/or announcing your child’s birthday on social media. A quick scroll back through your posts will easily provide a thief your child’s birthdate…and sometimes even the birth place such as the hospital and town.
  • Avoid posting school event photos or video which identify the school that your child attends.

Be a role model: Remember, children learn by example.

  • Be sure to secure YOUR computer and ALL mobile devices with passwords, anti-virus and keylogging protection.
  • Use strong passwords that can’t be guessed easily.
  • Set a reminder for yourself and your kids to change your passwords at least once per quarter.
  • Check your credit report regularly and request a credit report for your child but do it without creating a credit file.
  • Be sure to update your software regularly. Download the latest anti-virus and security software on your computer to make sure your system is up-to-date and prepared to detect attempted invasions.
  • Always remove and destroy the computer hard drive prior to discarding or donating any old computers or storage devices.

To learn more about Child Identity Theft including warning signs, credit checks and ways to repair the damage, visit the Federal Trade Commission’s website.