In this age of technology, kids are getting online at younger and younger ages, which is why it's important to consider child identity issues. Keeping kids safe online is a growing concern for many parents. Understanding the tactics identity thieves might use and talking to your kids about them in age appropriate ways, can go a long way toward protecting their personal information.
Keeping Kids Safe Online
When kids are very young, keeping them safe online is easy. You know the sites that are created for children and that you're comfortable with; however, even very young children can figure out how to click away from a site. Sometimes kids stumble upon content that is frightening or confusing to them. For this reason, close supervision of your child while they're online is important.
Today's parents didn't grow up with this technology and so the speed with which their children become comfortable "surfing" the Web can be surprising. Overseeing their online activity can help. Many parents find that filtering software which allows you to restrict specific sites is especially helpful in keeping kids safe online.
Learning to be Tech Savvy
Most parents have heard of cyber-bullying and its dangerous consequences and most are also aware of the dangers of online predators. Talk with your kids about some of these concerns and equip them to protect themselves.
Encourage kids to:
- Use an online "handle" or nickname instead of their actual name.
- Only "friend" those they have a friendship with in the off-line world.
- Keep personal identification information private. This includes the name of their school, their home address, and the city they live in.
These steps can go a long way toward protecting your kids from child identity theft, a crime which is growing rapidly. It doesn't take much for identity thieves to begin racking up large sums of debt in your child's name. All they need is a child's full name and address and they can secure employment, get government benefits, and even purchase a car or home in your child's name.
When Your Child's Identity is Compromised
If you believe your child's identity has been stolen, you need to act quickly. Follow the steps below to begin the process of rectifying the situation:
- Run a credit report on your child.
- Contact the police
- Call each of the three credit bureaus: Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian.
- Explain the situation to the credit bureaus. Ask that they place an alert on your child's name and social security number.
- Contact the companies who have fraudulent accounts open in your child's name. Ask them to place an identity theft alert on the account.
As tough as it is to constantly supervise your child's online activity, it's much easier than trying to fix any issues related to child identity theft. Check your child's online activity regularly and talk with them often to keep their identity safe online.