Is teen online identity theft a big deal?
In the wake of Target’s huge identity theft case last week, parents across the country are double-checking credit card accounts in fear that they themselves were a victim. Identity theft can cost money, cause hassles and even affect one’s credit rating.
Teens, especially those who are active online, need to understand that they can become victims as well. Recent reports indicate that incidents of child and teen identity theft have been rising.
Identity theft is defined as any time someone uses your identity or personal information for their gain, and that gain is sometimes but not always financial. Some incidents end in embarrassment, such as when a friend steals your Facebook password or picks up your phone while you’re logged in, and others that involve theft of a social security number, banking information or credit card details can cause financial loss.
Talk to your teens or pre teens about what they can do to keep themselves as safe as possible online.
Keep your passwords private – Recent research by the Family Online Safety Institute reveals that 34% of teens have shared user names and passwords with a person other than a parent or family member. Don’t do this. If others can post to your account, even as a joke, you can fall victim to something that permanently damages your reputation.
Use a password on your phone’s home screen – It is worth the hassle. If your phone is lost, stolen or is picked up by a prankster friend, you could be at risk.
Be wary of phishing scams – Phishing is a deceit, usually via email, where someone attempts to glean private data by impersonating a trusted institution. If you get an email that is the least bit suspect, pick up the phone and call the company that claims to have sent it.
Use privacy settings – Keep your social media accounts set to private, and don’t accept friend requests unless you are sure you know the other person.
Were you redirected? – Just because you think you are clicking on a legitimate link (i.e. www.walmart.com), you won’t necessary be taken to Walmart’s website. You may have been directed to another, more sinister site. Check the address bar to make sure you are at the intended site.
Pictures – Even if you’re proud of your new driver’s license or passport, don’t post a picture of it online. Recent cases, particularly targeting Instagram users, reveal that identity thieves are taking personal information directly from pictures posted on social media.
Beware of unprotected wifi networks – If you’re at school or a restaurant and there is free wifi, it is probably not secure. Be careful performing financial transactions or entering passwords if you are not sure that the network you are on is secure.
Things online change frequently, both In terms of best practices and how the bad guys will try to outwit you. Be aware, take precautions and stay up to date on how to keep your personal information and accounts safe.
Contact ThirdParent any time for help and resources for monitoring teen internet activity.