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The Resource Center Child Identity Theft & Protection | post

Kids Say the Craziest Things – in This Case, It’s How to Help Protect Yourself from Identity Theft

by Joe Mason on

I guess that I'm like many of you; I often bring my work home with me.  In my case, my work is fighting identity theft.  So, my daughters have heard me talk about the problem many times and I have talked with them about guarding their own personal information.  I see it as just another way that I can help keep them safe…↑ no different than putting on their bike helmets.

Something very interesting happened several months ago on our way home from my daughter's lacrosse practice.  We were driving a teammate to her house when she grabbed my daughter's Apple iPod Touch and asked her for her password.  Without missing a beat, my daughter replied, "Sorry, I can't.  My dad told me to never share my password."

So, after dropping off her friend, I told my daughter that I was very proud of her.  I then said, "Ya know, it's always the parents who are telling our kids what to do.  What if kids told other kids what to do?  I'll bet more kids would listen.  What do you think?"

It was really just a conversation, but it turned into much more.

Several hours later, I was surprised to see my home office transformed into an imaginative store called "Sparkles."  (I think it was meant to be some kind of clothing store because my daughter's clothes were draped on my desk, the shelving, and the chairs, and there was a hand-written sign that read "Sparkles" propped up on my desk.  And yes, even a "Clearance" rack.)

What I then discovered was that my daughter wrote a script about — you guessed it — identity theft.  I was blown away. She not only had a script, but she had written lines for my youngest daughter who, in this story, was the cashier at Sparkles.  She wanted to reenact just how easy it was to have an identity stolen.

The video shows my older daughter, the screenwriter and director of this little video, handing my younger daughter — the store clerk — a clothing item she wanted to buy.  The clerk then handed her a form to fill out to enter an in-store promotional contest, the "Sparkles Sweepstakes". She filled it out, and in doing so provided all of her personal information.

My daughter as narrator then pointed out why doing so was dangerous — all for some simple contest!

What's important here was that, despite the video and advice being very simple, the bigger message was much more powerful:  When kids start to educate other kids about the risks of sharing their personal information, it gives all of us hope.