Whether it's good or bad, kids spend a large chunk of time online every day. According to 2010's Norton Online Family Report, children around the world spend an average of 11.4 hours per week on the internet. They spend this time on social media, doing homework, surfing their favorite websites and sometimes getting into trouble. Parents usually try to prevent negative online experiences for their children by setting parental controls and monitoring cyberbullying. But what if your child's online behaviors are actually putting you and your identity at risk?
The United States Department of Justice defines identity theft as "all types of crime in which someone wrongfully obtains and uses another person's personal data in a way that involves fraud or deception, usually for economic gain." A thief will use his victim's Social Security number, bank account number, telephone number or other unique identifying information to withdraw funds from bank accounts or even take out loans in the victim's name. The crime can go unnoticed for weeks or months — until the victim notices something is amiss in an account or credit report.
Unfortunately, no one is immune from crafty identity thieves. A clever thief can adeptly overhear conversations, go through your trash or intercept your mail to commit crimes. But with the proliferation of the internet, the World Wide Web has become the ideal avenue for identity theft. And as darling as your child is, he or she is probably not savvy about identity protection, which can put the whole family at risk for victimization.
Children are vulnerable to cybercrime for the same reasons they're vulnerable to other types of crime. Most children are fairly naive about predatory behavior and likely haven't thought through the negative consequences of giving trust to people who haven't earned it. Here are some of the ways your child is vulnerable to cybercrime, which in turn can lead to cybercrime being committed against you and the entire family.
In other words, just because your child may not use your credit card online, he or she may still put you at risk for identity theft. Make sure you educate your child about password protection and approach all information sharing with great caution. Also, make sure your virus and malware software protection is up to date to reduce the risk of identity theft in case your kid accidentally downloads questionable content.
Has identity theft ever hurt your family?
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