You might think kids and teens don’t have to worry about identity theft, but they don’t. It turns out that identity thieves love children because most have clean credit records. And often teens won’t find out their identity has been stolen until they apply for their first credit card or college loan.
This is the bad news. The good news is that teens are starting to understand that they have to keep their identities. A study ordered by the Online safety institute for the family (FOSI) and conducted by Hart Research Associates, found that the percentage of teens who say they are “very concerned” about their identity theft has increased from 43% a year ago to 51% this year. Just under three-quarters (73%) agree that “because teens are more likely to have clean credit histories and are less likely to monitor their credit, it is reasonable to think that they might be victimized. identity theft”.
But, when it comes to their own situation, only 29% of teens believe they are personally vulnerable to identity theft.
Risky and not so risky behaviors
Just over a third (34%) of teens said they shared at least one username and password with someone other than their parents. Almost a quarter (23%) say they shared it with a friend or significant other.
Password sharing is a particularly risky behavior as it can not only lead to crimes but also lead to identity theft, for example someone logging into your social media account and posting as if it was you. .
The study was published during the FOSI’a annual convention which took place on November 6 and 7 in Washington, DC. The research included two focus groups held in September 2013 and a nationwide online survey conducted in October 2013 of 558 adolescents aged 13 to 17 who access the Internet.
Children post other information online that does not present a particular risk, such as their full name (75%), a photo (69%), their date of birth (54%), the name of their school (48% ) and their email address (47%). With the possible exception of the full date of birth (it’s a good idea not to pass the year), none of these types of information pose a high risk, considering the hundreds of millions of people. who publish this type of information on Facebook and other social networks. .
There are good signs when it comes to teens and privacy. More than three-quarters (76%) of teens said they were very or somewhat concerned about the privacy of their personal information, while 69% configured one or more devices to automatically lock themselves so that a password or a PIN is required to access the device (or perhaps a fingerprint if it’s an iPhone 5S).
Take-out for teens and parents
It’s a good idea to remind teens that they are vulnerable to both financial crime and identity theft and that it’s important to keep their passwords private. Friends can become old friends sometimes, so even if they trust someone, it’s a good idea to keep their passwords to themselves. And while teens will of course want to share some information – and that’s okay – but they should realize that some data is best kept secret. Have a conversation with your kids, but don’t lecture it. Start by asking what they know about identity theft and if they know how to protect themselves.
Identity Theft Resource Center Tips
Identity Flight Resource Center offers tips on how to avoid identity theft, including:
- Do not give out your SSN unnecessarily (only for tax reasons, credit or verified employment.) Before providing personal identifiers, know how it will be used and if it will be shared.
- Use a cross-cut shredder to dispose of documents containing personal information. Also use a specialized gel pen when writing checks.
- Place outgoing mail in collection boxes or at the US post office.
- The password protects your financial accounts. A strong password must be more than eight characters long and contain both uppercase letters and at least one numeric or other non-alphabetic character. The use of words not dictated by the dictionary is also recommended.
- Do not give out personal information over the phone, mail, or the Internet unless you initiate contact.
- Use firewall software to protect computer information. Keep virus and spyware programs up to date.