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Showing posts with label Identity Theft. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Identity Theft. Show all posts

Friday, August 16, 2013

Online Safety: Identity Thieves Increasingly Target Children – Here's Help

Is your child’s identity secure? Or does your 4-year old already have a driver’s license, a mortgage and a pile of credit card debt?

The rate of identity theft is 51 times higher for children than it is for adults, according to a new study from Carnegie Mellon’s CyLab. And while 76 percent of parents worry about childhood identity theft, only 14 percent use a monitoring service to watch for fraudulent activity. This disconnect in parent awareness and action could be leaving millions of children vulnerable to identity theft.

Identity Theft Can Happen to Any Child

Identity thieves are increasingly stealing children's social security numbers to secure credit cards and loans. Because children are the targets, these thefts can go unnoticed for years, causing logistical nightmares once discovered.

Consider the story of 5-year-old Carter Andrushko, as relayed by NPR. While Carter is not be old enough to even hold a job, the U.S. government thought he’s been working since he was born. When Carter’s mother applied for Medicaid benefits in 2009, she discovered that her son had been the victim of identity theft. She’s been working to sort out the negative ramifications ever since.

Childhood identity theft could haunt victims for decades to come, affecting their ability take out student loans, receive college scholarships or other financial aid, obtain a credit card, and even be approved for an apartment lease.

Parents: Take Action

Despite increased awareness about the dangers of childhood identity theft, it remains rampant because parents aren't taking preventative action. CyLab's recent study of 42,000 children found that more than 10 percent were already victims of identity theft, and their parents had no idea.

Many people simply don't think to check their children's credit histories—after all, their kids don't use credit, right? It's a good idea to check your child's credit history just as you do your own.

Enlist the help of an identity theft protection company to monitor your child’s social security number. Their services scan for identity thefts and send parents an alert if a child’s identity is compromised.

Identity Theft Warning Signs

How do you know if your child’s identity has been stolen? Warning signs include:
  • Unsolicited credit card offers in your child’s name. Credit card offers should never be intentionally sent to minors. Receiving one in your child’s name is a red flag.
  • Social Security account statement. These statements track annual contributions and anticipated benefits – receiving an earnings statement indicates someone else is using your child’s identity to illegal obtain employment.
  • Bills or collection agency calls for your child. A bill or collection agency call for your child is not a case of mistaken identity – it’s a sign that your child’s identity has been stolen.
How to Protect Your Child from Online Identity Theft

Children can unknowingly put their identities at risk when they are online.
  • Educate your child about online safety. Discuss the dangers of sharing personal information online. Help your children understand that anything they share, post or write online is recorded forever.
  • Use parental controls on the computer. Parental controls let you block objectionable content and even limit computer time.
  • Talk to your teen about social media. Tumblr and Instagram are teens’ favorite social media sites; talk to your teen about the dangers of sharing personal information on these sites.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Sharing & Privacy: Protecting Your Web-Entranced Kids

As the Internet becomes as common in our lives as commuting in cars, it has also found its way into the daily lives of our children. In fact, for many kids and parents, the Internet is an endless source of entertainment, education and distraction. However, it can also be a dangerous place on a number of fronts. According to the San Diego Country District Attorney, 45 million children between the ages of 10 and 17 use the Internet on a daily basis. Of the children who use the Internet, around 75 percent are only moderately supervised, if supervised at all. Considering there is no shortage of disturbing material online, it’s critical that kids are educated about how to keep themselves safe when they are online. Below are some tips for kids to use when they're online, with or without your supervision. 

Click image to enlarge. Link to full Inforgraph courtesy of Pew Research Center

Never Give Out Personal Information 

The first thing to make clear to your child, is that he should never give out his personal information online to anyone he doesn't know. This is not just because of the concern of someone coming to a child’s house or school and kidnapping them, but also for protection against identity theft. If you read identity theft protection testimonials online, you will hear horror stories about what happens to people when their identities are stolen—and how simple tricks and identity theft services can help to protect this from ever happening. This is even more relevant when we realize 33% of online teens have online friends they have never met in real life.

Credit report companies recommend that if your child’s identity is stolen, the first course of action to take is to go to the police and file a report. Then, contact the FTC (Federal Trade Commission), they will also investigate the situation. To keep it from happening in the future, it is critical to not only monitor your child’s internet activity more closely but also to get some sort of identity theft protection service like Lifelock. Read identity theft protection testimonials and other reviews to really get a sense of which service will be best for you and your family. 

Talk to Them About Cyber Bullying 

According to, nearly 43 percent of kids have been bullied online and 70 percent of kids have seen bullying online on a regular basis. Signs to look for, if you're worried that your kid is a victim of cyberbullying is if he becomes angry or depressed or both. The main thing to do is to have them talk about what is troubling them and then to contact school officials and possibly even the parents of the kids who are doing the bullying. 

Never Fully Trust Internet Communication 

Make sure your children understand that the Internet can be manipulated very easily, which means people they think they know online may not be who they say they are. The difference between reality and the digital world is vast in many cases and the better kids understand that, the safer they will be.

In recognition of Internet Safety Month, CQI will be posting a series of blog post about online safety issues and ways you can keep you family safer on the when engaging in online activities. Stay tuned! 

Did you know CQI staff is available to make presentations in the Silicon Valley (CA)? Our subject matter experts will present to schools, parent groups, companies, civic and non-profit groups, profession and faith-based organizations about Online and Personal Safety. Contact us at with the subject line “PRESENTATION"

Written & Edited by Anthony Gonzalez for Child Quest International

Related Articles:
5 Things You Should Know About Dangerous Online Communities
Cyberbullying & Protecting Your Child
Is Your Teen Sharing Too Much Online
10 Tips For Parents (Internet Safety)

Thursday, December 15, 2011

5 Things You Should Know About Online Scams

  1.  Criminals use a variety of methods to trick people online. Check out this list of some of the most common online scams.
  2. “Swatting,” a new and dangerous twist on the classic prank call, involves Internet pranksters getting swat teams to surround the homes of their unsuspecting victims, like in this case.
  3. If you've been a victim of an online scam, you can report it to IC3, the Internet Crime Complaint Center.
  4. Challenge your teen to test his or her Internet surfing habits with this quiz from the McAfee security company. Then, take it yourself and compare your scores.
  5. Are you planning to avoid the in-store holiday rush by shopping online? Then you may want to read this article about some common methods of identity theft and ways to protect your family.