As a parent, the integrity of the family’s financial information is a top concern. Each year, more Americans report becoming the victim of identity theft, and the number of younger children who are falling victim to this crime is on the rise. One service the perpetrators of identity theft frequently use to gain personal information about victims is the Internet.
Proper credit protection for the entire family begins with safe online practices. With the 2011-2012 school year fast approaching, parents may want to take the remaining summer days to provide their children with a lesson on how to reduce their risk for cybercrime.
Safe practices for social media
While it’s up to the parents of younger children to decide when it’s right for them to establish a presence on Twitter, Google+ or Facebook, parents should instruct their children on the right way to present themselves in this medium.
Start by explaining why certain information such as a phone number or a home address could be used by criminals, and instruct the child on how to properly set privacy settings. Even though parents could tackle this process on their own, conveying the information properly to kids can be beneficial in the long run.
Safe practices for email
According to Symantec, one of the top providers of anti-virus and anti-spyware software, almost 20 percent of all spam emails are phishing messages. In these solicitations, identity thieves attempt to gain personal information from the recipient. Generally, these emails are given the official header of a legitimate institution, and will ask for personal information such as the consumer’s Social Security number.
Parents should instruct their children not to respond to these emails with any personal information, and how to report the instance to the proper authority. If a child were to receive a phishing email that appears as though it is from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), parents will want to take down information regarding the email and pass it on to the organization.
What parents can do
Teaching a child about the importance of credit reports and scores is beneficial. But, parents ultimately need to take the lead when guarding their kids’ information. This includes monitoring a child’s Internet activity and financial records, and installing the appropriate software on a family computer so that all members are protected.