Educate Kids About Identity Theft
It’s difficult to imagine that kids can become victims of identity theft, but a study at the Carnegie Mellon Cylab indicated that children are 51 times more likely to be targeted by identity thieves than adults. Often, the unsuspecting victims find out that they have been victimized later when they start college, begin applying for jobs or credit. Parents are the first ones to unearth that their kids are identity theft victims when they receive suspicious bills or receive a pre-approved credit card for their child.
Protecting Children Under 5 Years
If your kids are below 5 years and are not using the Internet, it is your responsibility to be extra vigilant when it comes to giving out their personal information. Lock their Social Security number and birth certificate in a safe place. You should only volunteer the information when absolutely needed, such as school registrations or doctor visits. Think about setting a credit freeze for your child. Some financial companies offer the ability to lock and even monitor a child’s credit file. You should consider talking to kids about identity theft and how important it is to keep personal details private.
Teaching Identity Theft to Older Kids
Once kids grasp the concepts of theft, money, and identity (usually from 5-7 years), talk to them about the importance of safeguarding information. With the prevalence of children and teenagers using cellphones and increased online activity (92% of teens use the Internet according to Pew Research Center), protecting them from becoming statistics of identity theft is crucial. You can:
- Educate them about the importance of the social security number, birth certificate or bank cards. Highlight what can happen if the information can get in the wrong hands.
- Tell them never to post personal information online, especially on social networking websites.
- Teach kids to protect devices with passwords and educate them on how to create secure ones. Passwords and PINS should never be shared.
- Talk about possible scams that they might experience or encounter in the malls, school grounds, social sites, messages and emails.
- Stress the importance of using safe sites and to avoid unsecured Internet zones.
- Monitor the sites that your kids visit and restrict Internet surfing.
- Install anti-virus, anti-phishing, or security software on devices.
- Limit or scrap a data plan on your kid’s phone.
- If your teenager has a convenience card, restrict the amount of money they can withdraw daily or monthly and monitor their banking activities regularly to see if there is something suspicious going on.
When children and teenagers are aware of identity theft and its dreadful consequences, they are likely to pay attention to what’s happening around them. Although it is not foolproof, reducing the chances of becoming a victim is already a step away from the clutches of an impostor.