Identity Theft: How to protect your child

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Let’s see how you can protect your kid’s online identity.

Because of the fact that the internet is still largely an unregulated space, adults have to deal with the fact that they may become victims of identity theft.

However, our research shows that it is not only the adults who have to take care of their data and not become a victim.

Teenagers and kids also risk the possibility of becoming victims.

The internet is more or less a place where people store information.

We’re talking about stuff such as,

  • Social security numbers
  • Phone numbers
  • Credit card numbers
  • Home addresses
  • Passwords
  • Birth dates

All of this information is up for grabs if we are not careful enough.

Identity thieves, once they have stolen our information, can use this information for both profit and fun.

It has also come to our attention that fraudsters actually target younger people?

Why?

Because a young person is more likely to have a credit report which is clean.

Moreover, criminals also know that with a young person, there is a higher chance of the crime going undetected for a long period of time.

And this is what the data says as well.

Young people only find out that someone has stolen their identity when they finally apply for a credit card or a driver’s license.

This usually happens when they are aged close to 17 or 18.

Of course, by the time young people know about their identity theft, they have already suffered a good amount of damage.

The Federal Trade Commission carried out a study recently which showed that teenagers made up 6 percent of all the ID theft cases that were recorded each year.

Another report from Identity Theft Center mentioned that last year alone, about 1 million kids became victims of ID theft.

So are there any preventative and proactive measures that you as a parent can take in order to keep your child safe and sound from problems such as identity theft?

Yes.

Let’s take a deeper look.

Find out how your child’s data is used and stored

This is probably the first step that you should take.

Do you know where a given service is storing your child’s identity?

Or how is it using it?

The obvious starting point here should be the child’s school.

Hence, it is completely worth it to know the measures, if any, the school has taken to protect the ton of information that they have on their records about their students.

You should adopt the same approach to other facilities as well.

We’re talking about places that hold more information on children like dental and medical practices.

If your child goes to an after-school club or has joined some society of sorts then check them out as well.

You need to know the privacy policy of each given service/company.

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The thing you want to find out is how are they securing the data on your child.

Our research shows that the information these institutions hold on your child will likely include,

  • Phone numbers
  • Home addresses
  • Directory information
  • Survey results (if any)

All of this is pretty valuable information.

The exact type of information/data that an ID fraudster would want to have access to in order to his/her work.

We are aware of the fact that every organization has its own privacy policy.

And most of the time these policies differ from each other.

Hence, it is always worth to check out each individual service and/or company.

On that note, we would also like to mention that currently there are some pretty strict guidelines from the federal government that schools have to follow when it comes to managing all the data that belongs to their students.

To read more about the guidelines and how they affect the user you need to read the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.

Get your child’s free annual credit report

No, this would not be an extreme move on your part.

The Federal Trade Commission actually recommends that all parents should check their kid’s child report around the time that they reach the age of 16.

Once you have that credit report (more precisely, a copy of it) you have every chance of monitoring your child’s profile.

This would also help you to ensure that your child’s report is still untouched by fraudsters.

In total, there are around three major agencies for credit reporting.

They are as follows,

  • Experian
  • Equifax
  • TransUnion

All of these credit reporting agencies have an obligation to provide their customers with a free credit report on an annual basis.

And yes, children can get them as well.

Do take note that credit reporting agencies might require you to provide them with the social security number of your child along with proof of address and birth certificate in order to generate a credit report.

Now, we have already mentioned that if you get a clean credit report then you should feel relieved.

However, by no means, does it mean that your kid is 100 percent not an identity theft victim.

We say that because it has come to our attention that credit reports do not have the ability to show each and every kind of online identity theft.

If you want to get a credit report for your child without paying anything then you can select any of the credit reports available at AnnualCreditReport.com.

The website that we have linked to above has been recommended by the Federal Trade Commission.

Enhance your device security

In the modern world of an internet-enabled life, a good number of kids in the developed countries have access to a multiple number of internet-enabled devices.

Kids now have laptops, home desktops, school learning computer machines, tablets, smartphones, and other devices.

You need to ensure that all of your kid’s devices have the latest software updates and patches.

Keep the devices up to date to thwart identity theft attempts.

If you stick to a regular schedule then that will help you a lot when it comes to having protection against your kid’s personal information ending up in the hands of a cybercriminal.

On that front, it is imperative that you purchase a top-of-the-line and state-of-the-art antivirus product.

Keep it enabled and updated while you surf the world of the web.

Teens usually spend a lot of time playing video games on their machines.

If that is the case with your kid as well, then make sure you have an antivirus for that as well.

A lot of good antivirus products today have services such as smart Gamer Modes which provide protection to the user while the user is busy playing video games.

Such antivirus products have the capability to work in the background and are able to filter out any given malicious software that may try to wreak havoc on your kid’s machine.

Simply put, if you are on the web a lot, you need an antivirus product.

On that note, it is also a good idea to sign up for a VPN service.

VPN services encrypt the user’s online data and internet connection.

With a VPN service in place, you never have to worry about a cybercriminal getting hold of your machine or your data.

Why?

Because both are hidden once you have activated a VPN service.

Of course, it is a job in and of itself to hunt down the best VPN for the job.

Therefore, what you should do is click here and read more about the best VPN service providers available in the world right now.

Remember, if you have a good combination of an antivirus product and a VPN service, then you give yourself all the chances of not coming across anything bad during your online sessions.

Antivirus products give you the option of blocking websites that you consider as unsuitable.

Not only that, but advanced antivirus products even have the ability to quarantine viruses which would otherwise have no trouble compiling usernames and passwords before actually sending all that information to the same hacker who developed the virus.

And since we have so many Internet of Things or IoT devices in our surroundings now, it also makes sense to protect them.

Gaming devices and/or smart speakers are the most common IoT devices in a given household and they do connect to the internet on a regular basis.

If hackers intercept the communication channels of such devices, they could get a lot of information on the user.

Perhaps this is also a good time to mention that you also always beware of online gaming communities.

Especially on Microsoft Xbox and Sony PlayStation platforms.

Why do we say that?

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We say that because both these platforms are very popular with teenagers and even some adult kids and hence pose a danger to anyone’s online identity.

The main problem with these platforms is that they allow the user to play, chat and also interact with other gamers from all over the globe.

If you search hard enough, you will find that a lot of scammers make use of fake identities in order to sign up to gaming communities.

They use these profiles to gain personal information on the people playing games on these platforms.

We’re talking about information such as the user’s,

  • Email address
  • Account passwords
  • Date of birth

Make use of parental control settings.

They are there for a reason.

Parental controls are nothing but a special group of settings on any given internet-enabled device or an app which gives parents the control over the type of content that their kids can see in the online world via that device.

Parental controls have become very useful for parents who want to protect their kids in the online world.

Using various parental control options parents limit any type of activity or website that their children can engage with while online.

Therefore, parental control options help parents minimize the risk of their kid encountering something dangerous in the online world or possibly interacting with online fraudsters.

Some of the various parental controls and other features related to content management are usually found in,

  • Custom and dedicated parental control apps and software
  • Operating system settings and accounts
  • Web browser settings
  • Social media apps and websites
  • Search engine settings
  • Entertainment applications such as Netflix and YouTube
  • Mobile carrier preferences
  • Broadband provider preferences
  • Home internet preferences

Now, remember that even though various services offer their own parental control features to users which come built-in with their primary product, you can also search the market for various other devices and apps that act as standalone parental control systems.

There are paid and free software applications available for the same task as well.

You can download parental control programs to your internet-enabled devices such as,

  • Tablet
  • Android phone
  • iOS
  • Apple Mac
  • PC

Our research shows that parental control applications do have the potential of helping parents prevent many kinds of ID theft in a variety of different ways.

With most parental control applications you get access to separate components that deal with different threats for your kid.

Let’s take a look at those components.

Text and call management

With such components, parents have the option of knowing all the details regarding phone calls that take place via the kid’s smartphone device.

Parents can also take a look at the text messages that their kid may send to a contact.

More specifically, such parental control systems allow parents to see incoming cell number, call length, time, date, contact book name and a lot more communication details.

Such information should prove enough for parents to ensure that their kid is not engaging with someone that they do not know well enough because there is a high chance of that someone trying to steal the kid’s information.

Browsing history monitoring program

These components come in handy for people who want to view the kind of content their kid is consuming via website browsing on the internet.

As such, this is the ideal component for parents to ensure that no one is able to trick their kids into visiting websites that are fake and dangerous.

App and website blocking filter

Using such features, parents can restrict access to specific apps and well-known websites.

Thus, they can reduce the risk of fraud exponentially.

 

We are aware of the fact that sometimes parents simply do not want to put in the time and the effort required to set up parental controls.

They usually think that parental controls are something that are beyond their digital skills.

But that is not true.

At least, not anymore.

Modern parental control systems are simple enough for parents to use simple steps in order to control the content on a given device.

The interfaces of such systems are also easy to use.

Make use of different identity theft protection firms

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Modern identity theft protection firms offer services which make it easy for anyone to monitor his/her identity for cases of potential theft.

Using such services, a given user can potentially limit the amount of damage that someone can do his/her identity.

Several reputable companies offer identity theft protection services.

These services also monitor the user’s information on a much deeper level if you compare them to normal credit report monitor services.

Our research shows that identity theft protection services are able to cross-reference databases for the user’s personal information which is false or new.

Using such methods, they are able to give the user sufficient warnings regarding identity theft.

The details that identity theft protection services can alert the user on include,

  • Newly created social media profiles on behalf of the user or in the user’s name.
  • Orders for utilities, cable TV or wireless services
  • Website activity on various online black markets
  • Loan applications such as new payday loans in the user’s name
  • New court orders or arrest records
  • Requests to cash various types of cheques on the user’s behalf

There are many such providers of identity theft services that offer family plans.

It goes without saying that if you are not only looking to protect yourself but also your children then you need to sign up for any and all available family plans.

Keep an eye on social media profiles

Teens are usually avid social media consumers.

Hence, fraudsters consider them as low hanging fruits.

Social media websites, for all their good, do make it easier for fraudsters and other hackers to get a hold of a given user’s personal data.

If you want to make sure that you have got your kid’s back when it comes to identity theft then you need to find a way to check your kid’s Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter and other social media accounts regularly.

That is perhaps the easiest way for any parent to make sure that their child is not unintentionally communicating sensitive information which fraudsters may use to verify their own identity while filling out financial application forms.

Now, we are aware of the fact that some parents might find it very difficult to access and then monitor various social media accounts.

Teenagers aren’t exactly known for sharing their accounts with their parents either.

A lot will depend on the age of your kid though.

What parents need to realize is that they really have few options but to talk to their kid/kids and then make them aware of all the dangers that lurk in the online world.

You must warn you kid to never give up any kind of personal information over various social media websites.

Moreover, you should also teach your child to block any person that tries to insist on providing personal information.

Apart from that, teach your kids to report anything that they find suspicious either to the operator of the given website or to you.

Inform your kid that he/she should change the settings of his/her social media profile and only make his/her information available to his/her friends.

There is a privacy setting that does exactly that on Facebook.

Exercise careful when in the offline world.

Yes.

Protecting your kid’s identity in the online world means that you will have to take some steps in the offline world as well.

Perhaps this is a good time to let you in on a sad truth.

That truth is identity theft doesn’t always happen via the online world.

Neither are strangers involved in every case of identity theft.

What we mean to say is that you and your kids need to be on your toes in the offline world as well.

Make your children learn how to protect their financial and personal information like their ATM pin numbers and/or passwords.

Some suggest that children should keep their information from their family and friends as well.

Teens tend to have a lot of trust in their friends.

That is not good.

You need to teach them how to set boundaries and how not to share some stuff with them or anyone else.

Whether you like it or not, there will come a point when your kid is going to trust a person who tries to use the kid’s personal information against him/her.

That is, if you do not sufficiently train your kids.

Teens need to learn the best ways of protecting their financial and personal information.

As a parent, you need to go beyond using obvious protection tools such as private browsers, VPNs and antivirus products.

All of these products certainly help users to stay safe from various identity theft attempts.

But there are other things that you and your kid can do to have more protection.

For example, one great tip is to download the official bank application for your kid’s account.

Of course, we ‘re assuming here that your kid is old enough to have a bank account.

Make time to encourage your kid to check his/her bank statement from time to time via the official app.

That way, you will also have a better chance of reversing any unauthorized transactions.

Parents should also check up on their kid’s monthly printed bank statements.

They should also make sure that everything is in proper shape on their statements and that no one else has access to their account.

 

Zohair

Zohair

Zohair is currently a content crafter at Security Gladiators and has been involved in the technology industry for more than a decade. He is an engineer by training and, naturally, likes to help people solve their tech related problems. When he is not writing, he can usually be found practicing his free-kicks in the ground beside his house.

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