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The Resource Center Child Identity Theft & Protection | article

How to Effectively Set a Child’s Passwords to Help Avoid Identity Theft

This September, school children across the U.S. will be headed back to classrooms. However, in some areas, students will be benefiting from new educational programs. For example, more and more younger students are being given new technology such as tablets and e-readers to help them learn more effectively. Similarly, many older children will be receiving access to these products for the first time.

Due to this new technology, parents may want to use the opportunity to speak to their children about the way they use their information online. To give a child the tools to protect their finances from threats such as child identity theft, moms should teach their children to use passwords effectively. When this information falls into the hands of thieves, a child could face long-term damage to their credit reports and scores.

Basic Website Passwords
These days, nearly every website asks visitors to create a unique account with a password. To ensure fraud protection while allowing the child to gain the development tools the Web can offer, identity theft experts recommend that parents help children develop a password strategy.

Since the nature of these websites doesn't mandate that users are 100 percent honest with their information, experts advise parents to instruct their children to use fake names and addresses, and a simple password. This isn't appropriate for official websites, such as the U.S. Postal Service, but it can be a helpful tool to ensure that a hacked retail website doesn't lead to financial damage for minors.

Retail Website Passwords
When moms decide their child is ready to start purchasing items on the Web, parents should encourage their children to develop a separate password. Since users need to input debit or credit card information — either the child's or the parent's — to complete a purchase, moms want to ensure this data is protected during the transaction.

For the most protection, parents may want to create a secured list of passwords for each important website, such as the child's banking provider and online merchant account website. Additionally, parents may want to supervise their child during the transaction.

Password Don'ts
While the passwords should be easy to remember and include numbers and characters, there are certain phrases or number combinations parents may want to ensure their child doesn't use. This includes personal information such as a birth date or last four digits of a Social Security number.