Social Scams?

Your teens love their Facebook friends and their MySpace pages and whatever other social networks they've joined. And while once upon a time the fear was that someone would physically hurt them based on an online relationship, now there's a new threat: online identity theft. Is social networking safe?

Teen Boy at Computer

Identity theft is a serious crime that can wreak havoc on your credit score -- and thus, almost every part of your life. But if you're a teenager who doesn't have a credit card and whose cell phone is under Mom and Dad's account, you might not even realize that your identity has been stolen.

You'd just go on about your life, and then one day, you'd apply for your first credit card or school loan -- or fill out a job application -- and suddenly find out that you're a terrible credit risk, not someone employers want to hire, not someone who can get money for school.

The little details teens share on their social networking profiles are the nuggets of information an identity thief can quickly grab and use. But you can help your kids with some relatively simple tips that let them have their online fun without waving a welcome sign to crooks.

  • What's in a name? For an identity thief, plenty. So encourage your kids to post with a nickname, a different spelling, or a first name only. Keep the legal name for legal documents.
  • So you say it's your birthday! Tell teens not to post their full birthdate online. Month and day is fine, but leave the year off -- and don't pose your age in another part of the profile. You need to enter a DOB? Pick a new one. Your real friends will know the difference.
  • Hey, stranger. Ask your teen if she'd feel comfortable handing out her address to random people on the street. So why give it out online? At most, go with city and state -- but maybe aim for the nearest large city.
  • Smile for the camera. Of course your teen wants to post photos in her online profile. And that's fine, but teach her to be smart about the pictures she chooses. Avoid work or school uniforms that give away information. Close up shots of faces or group shots of kids are great.
  • Call me! It's not a good idea to give out a phone number online. Make it a rule in your house, and let your kids know that cell phone and Internet privileges will be revoked if they don't comply.

You don't have to shut down your teen's social network. Following these tips can keep her identity safe, and you can rest easy. For a few minutes, at least.


Read more about social networking and Facebook:

Tags: teens and facebook teens online

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Comments on "Is Facebook safe? Safety tips for teens"

Franklin August 12, 2011 | 6:27 AM

Yo man this is allllll true, dont be lettin yalls children get kidnapped or they identities stolen know what im sayin?

martin June 27, 2011 | 5:19 AM

I like facebook

Jessica January 31, 2011 | 9:11 PM

Sometimes checking my kids Facebook gives me way more information about what they're up to than trying to get it out of them. Just keep them close and then you can keep an eye on what's going on as far as Internet safety, too.

Katiebird12 August 19, 2010 | 10:38 AM

Myspace is just a big booty call and facebook you can actually do more like play games chat with your friend and family

musi January 10, 2010 | 1:17 PM

okay so i know that if you dont give out any perosnal information, you are parents STILL wont let me get a facebook! :( i feel so left out of the whole "interaction" thing. :( any ideas as to what i should do?

beka October 27, 2009 | 1:29 PM

hay so my mom is soooooo strict untill i showed her this artical thanks sooooo much ....... but the whole nickname thing bad no one can fine you i just put my name and my lastenitial so my peeps can find me!!!!! .... but thanks for the help!!!!!!!

lnkj October 11, 2009 | 2:23 PM

myspace is cool

mia October 01, 2009 | 7:02 PM

great article. maybe you should mention some things about those sites? like how, with Facebook, you can make your profile extremely private. thnx tho

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