Cybercriminals browse the Internet every day as they look to steal valuable personal information that can be used for identity theft purposes. We all need to take the right precautions to protect our personal information, and that of our children. In this digital age, kids can become victims of identity theft well before their adulthood. Social media can be a valuable source of personal information for identity thieves. When posting on social media about your children, always evaluate what kind of information you are sharing to prevent getting your children exposed to the possibility of identity theft.
For the generation of parents who came of age using social media, it feels almost natural to share photos and comments about their kids. They justify sharing of their kids’ information as keeping the family and friends updated, especially if they live far away. Keep in mind that sharing information about your children creates an online footprint of your child that they will have little to no control over. Some of the information you share may be vital to identity thieves, for example, informing about your newborn baby on social media can clue the thieves onto your child’s name and date of birth.
The three key pieces of information that you should avoid sharing online are:
1) your child’s name
2) your child’s birth date
3) your child’s age
These three pieces of personal information can be used for fraud. Identity thieves can troll social media platforms for public posts that give them clues to these pieces of information. Even restricted posts could be mishandled and end up in the wrong hands.
Typically, Social Security Number is needed for an identity theft. If criminal already has access to child’s SSN, it’s not too difficult for them to find the missing pieces of information merely by using social media. After finding out all vital information, thieves may start opening fraudulent accounts in your child’s name. Thieves may even attempt to create fake identity by combining certain bits of information about your child with falsified information—this is called synthetic identity theft.
One of the biggest problems with identity theft of a child is that it can go undetected for years, and it can take years to clean up the mess and regain control of their SSN. Most parents wouldn’t think to check their child’s SSN, and the child can’t apply for a credit card until they are 18. Identity theft is often discovered during the first credit check for a loan, credit card, or apartment lease. The victim won’t be held legally responsible for financial losses caused by compromised SSN but resolving the issue can lead to some out-of-pocket expenses and take time.
Be aware of your child’s online habits. Make sure to teach your children best online practices at early age. Tell them to not share their name, address, phone number, passwords, etc. Explain how clicking on suspicious links or attachments could be dangerous, especially if coming from unverified sources. Tell them to never message with strangers! You can act as a copilot as your child learns to navigate the web and use software to monitor their online activity.
Don’t forget that what your children share on the Internet can come back and haunt them later. Be sure to explain to your child that information shared online has real life consequences, and reputation is a fragile thing.
This article was originally published on Identity IQ’s website: Link to original article.
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