In today’s digital day and age, we are all more aware than ever before of the risk of identity theft, particularly in the form of cyber hacks, which result in our personal and private information being stolen and used by fraudsters to commit crimes under your name. We are often reminded of the risks involved in sharing our personal information, and the ways we can protect against becoming a victim of this very common crime.
When you hear the term ‘identity theft,’ one group of society that you may not immediately consider being the victim are children. However, a recent study comprised by Javelin Research found that in the United States alone, over 1 million children were victims of identity theft in 2017. Within this statistic, 2/3 of victims were under the age of eight, and 20% were 8-12 years old.
Why are children victimized?
Children are, in particular, victimized by fraudsters because, in general, it is much harder to detect identity theft of a child. This is mainly because children will have no idea that their identity and information is being used by someone else. It is harder to track because children will have clean credit card records, and there is no real way of knowing that the identity has been stolen. In terms of the type of information that is stolen, this includes your child’s social security number and paper documents such as birth certificates and any financial records. A child’s online footprints are now also developed much earlier due to digitalization, meaning school and medical records, for example, are much easier to track down.
How can I prevent it?
In terms of trying to prevent your child from becoming a victim of identity theft, steps to take include being vigilant with any important documents in the home. It may shock you to learn that statistically, in a third of cases of identity theft, family friends are the fraud perpetrator. Therefore, regarding any documents in the home, try and keep these under lock and key, as you never know who could potentially take advantage and try and steal your child’s identity.
Teaching your child early on about the importance of identity theft is essential, too, as it is near impossible to keep an eye on what your child is sharing with others once they are of an age to go online independently. Therefore, teaching your children about the importance of keeping their information private can be a vital step to take that can help prevent identity theft occurring. Remind them of information they must not reveal, such as their full name, address, phone number, and school details. If your child uses social media platforms or online forums, it is best to remain anonymous as any information can be picked up by a fraudster.
Furthermore, you need to be vigilant and teach your child to avoid clicking on any unknown websites that could be phishing websites or pop-ups that could give potential hackers the opportunity to access private information. You can also utilize identity protection software that can keep you and your family’s information private.
Identity theft is something adults may be all-too-aware of as they surf the online world. However, your children need protecting too at all times. While it’s hard to believe that someone would use your child’s details, it happens, and prevention is key in ensuring your child doesn’t become a victim.