When people talk about the demographics most likely to be victims of identity theft, they are generally talking about the elderly. The truth is, however, that another large segment of the population is at an above-average risk of identity theft: children. In fact, it’s thought that children are 51 times more likely to be the victims of identity theft than adults.
Due to the younger generations’ increased use of social media, a lot of information about children and teens is freely available, only a quick Internet search away. It isn’t uncommon for teens to post their addresses and phone numbers, along with information about their extended family. From this, cyber criminals have a basis on which to begin deducing more sensitive information, such as their victim’s mother’s maiden name, which is a common security question for many online services.
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Additionally, many younger children are opening social media accounts of their own, or at least opening accounts on social gaming websites aimed at their age group. It is easy for them to fall prey to scammers sending out links that lead to phishing attacks.
Although most parents are aware that child identity theft is on the rise and over three-quarters are concerned about the issue, the majority of parents don’t act on their fears. Chances are that many simply don’t know what to do to minimize their children’s risk, but the most effective steps are actually very straightforward.
By encouraging open communication about their children’s online habits and anything negative or threatening they may run into, parents can better inform their younger children about the dangers of the Internet and nip any future problems in the bud. As for teenagers, who are typically pretty well-informed already but may choose to ignore some warnings, parents can encourage them to not share vital details on social networking sites, to make their information private and to not chat with or add strangers.
Edited by Alisen Downey