Most parents are pretty clued into the dangers of online sex traffickers, but how often do we think about our kids being victims of identity theft or online scams. If you are worried about identity theft visit https://fully-verified.com/, to hire a service to protect your identity.
All this month we are talking about giving kids life skills, and this week we’re turning our attention to helping kids learn how to communicate in an image-based culture. Our newspaper column and radio show this week are about why kids need photography, graphic design, basic web design, videography and video editing skills.
(By the way, if you would like to see our column in your local paper or hear the POP Parenting radio show on your local talk radio station, contact us, and we will tell you how you can help make that happen!)
So as we are helping our kids become savvy communicators in an image-based culture, we are wise to help them develop highly sensitive scam radars.
Did you know that identity theft is more common among kids than any other age group? According to a 2011 Carnegie Mellon study of more than 40,000 children, kids under age 18 were twice as likely as their parents to be victims of identity theft.
The problem is, a lot of these young people are easily duped into sharing their personal information online. According to companies like North Shore Advisory, the reason the are pretty good targets because most kids have a Social Security number that is connected to a clean (albeit blank) credit report. Cyber scammers are all too happy to write their own credit story on an innocent kid’s Experian report.
We can teach our kids to be extremely skeptical of anyone asking for their full name, date of birth, address and/or social security number. Our kids should be very aware of how important their personal data is to their future, and they should learn to guard it like Fort Knox.
Also, most kids don’t check their credit reports. Why should they? They’re too young to have any kind of credit history, right? That’s exactly the mindset that the scammers are banking on. We are wise to teach our kids to monitor their own credit reports, just as we monitor ours and to report any suspicious activity.
Other tips to protect their identity include:
Not storing personal data on their smart phones, which could be lost or stolen
Not transmitting any personal data over a public wi-fi or storing personal data on their computers or tablets which can be compromised by hackers
Not using the same simple passwords in multiple places, but instead use different and more complex passwords for different accounts (teach them to keep a log of passwords so they don’t forget them)
Education goes a long way toward protection. Help kids to fully understand what identity theft is and how it can harm them.
Kids are generally trusting in nature. Their innocence often prevents them from sensing a scam when they see one. When they see the new X-Box being sold for pennies on the dollar, they think they have hit the jackpot. Through regular conversation, we can teach our kids that anytime something seems too good to be true, it usually is.
Whenever a contest or a job opportunity requires some kind of payment, it is usually a scam. Recently one of our kids confronted this situation. An Amazon distribution center just opened near our hometown, and scammers used this as an opportunity to offer bogus job opportunities. We knew something was up when they wanted her to pay $300 for a chance to make “great money with super benefits” at Amazon. Any reputable company like Amazon won’t require payment for a chance to work for them.
When our kids shop online, we need to teach them to be super savvy. Always meet a stranger in a public place with heavy traffic to buy something from sites like Craigslist. Before giving payment info, make sure a seller on an online auction site like e-Bay has a very high rating with hundreds of successful transactions, and never send an item to someone who says the check is in the mail.
Keep the Conversation Going
According to a recent study from the Kaiser Foundation, kids ages 8-18 spend an average of 10-plus hours per day on a variety of media, which means that it is more important than ever to make sure they know how to stay safe.
In 2010, Norton’s Online Family Report showed that 41 percent of children have had an anonymous person try to add them as a friend on a social networking site, 63 percent of kids have responded to online scams and 77 percent of kids have downloaded a virus.
We need to make this a focus and talk about it often. We can’t stick our heads in the sand and pretend nothing is wrong. We also can’t go all militant on our kids and ban something we don’t understand, and we can’t constantly hover over their shoulders and make decisions for them. We need to proactively and preventatively help our kids develop a careful eye for potential scams.
Check out the FBI’s Parent’s Guide to Internet Safety for more ideas on keeping kids safe online.