ID theft is not just limited to adults. Children are just as much at risk of having their identity stolen. Unfortunately theft of a child’s identity can go undetected for years, which is why children can be a tempting target for identity thieves. In America, the Federal Trade Commission found children make up the fastest growing segment of identity theft victims.* The UK does not experience this crime to the same degree as our personal data is protected by the Data Protection Act 1998, however with the rise of social media children are increasingly susceptible in cyberspace.
What is child identity theft?
Child identity theft occurs when an identity thief steals a child’s personal details to commit fraud and other types of crimes. It is easy for criminals to set up new accounts as children tend to have clean credit records. This type of identity theft is not usually reported because parents have no suspicion their child’s identity has been taken let alone the child themselves which allows the criminal to use the information for many years.
How do I know if my child’s identity has been compromised?
- Your child gets a bill for something they haven’t ordered.
- They get emails from an organisation they don’t recognise.
- They receive letters regarding government benefits or tax payments.
- They begin receiving credit applications and credit card and bank offers under his or her name.
- Your application to open a bank account for your child is denied due to poor credit history.
What can my child do to protect him/herself when going online?
- Make sure you teach your child about privacy and that they aware of the information they must not reveal, such as name, address, phone number or school.
- Be careful of what they share online and with whom. Ensure they don’t accept friend requests from strangers on popular sites like Facebook and Twitter.
- If your child goes on chatrooms encourage them to stay anonymous as they may find themselves to talking to people they don’t know.
What can I do to protect my child’s identity online?
- Check the privacy settings on any online social networking sites your child’s is signed up to and don’t forget to also check the device settings on smartphones or tablets that they may use.
- Monitor what information is being shared and made public through simply checking search engines for your child’s name.
- Be vigilant and monitor their social media and chatroom use, such as only allowing them to use it your presence and looking over the chat room before your child joins it.
- Block pop ups, to prevent your child being tempted to click on them and potentially release malicious software.
If your child’s identity has been stolen they must change their passwords to any online sites immediately as well as any security questions. If they have become a victim of fraud report it to Action Fraud.