Identity Theft Prevention for Parents: Understanding Identity Theft and Its Impact on Children

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Introducing "Identity Theft Prevention for Parents"

This is the first in a multi-part series by SafeWise expert advisor Pete Canavan, “The Safety Sensei.” Pete's expert tips and practical advice aim to help you secure your child's future in a rapidly changing digital world.

Identity theft is a rapidly growing crime that can have serious consequences for individuals of all ages, including children. In this series, we'll start off by exploring the concept of identity theft, its potential impact on children, and the importance of implementing preventive measures that keep it from happening or at least limit the damage if it does.

According to its most basic definition, identity theft happens when a bad actor uses someone's personal information without consent—typically for fraud. Children are especially vulnerable targets for identity theft because they have clean credit histories and their personal information is often shared with various institutions, like schools and healthcare providers.

Teenage Boy In living room hacked by hacker on the table, stock image.

Image: reklamlar, iStock

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Consequences of identity theft for children

The consequences of identity theft for children can be far-reaching. Not only can it jeopardize their financial future, but it can also cause emotional distress and damage their reputation—both online and offline.

Imagine discovering that your child's identity has been stolen and used to open fraudulent bank accounts or apply for credit cards. The aftermath of such an incident can be overwhelming, both financially and psychologically. It is extremely difficult to fight back against this, so it makes sense to do as much as possible to be proactive and avoid the problem altogether.

Preventive measures parents can take

Understanding the significance of preventive measures is crucial. Parents play a pivotal role in safeguarding their children's identities. By educating themselves about identity theft, parents can take preemptive steps to protect their children's personal information and mitigate the risk.

Teaching children about online safety and responsible use of personal information is absolutely essential. Encourage kids to be cautious and never share personal details online, such as their full name, address, or date of birth. They should be told to never disclose that information.

Monitoring online activity

In addition, parents should monitor kids' online activities and help them establish secure passwords to minimize the risk of identity theft. Here's a list of ways that you can use technology and parental controls to help protect children's identities online:

  • Monitor what sites your children are visiting.
  • Set up alerts that will let you know if they try to access sites that they shouldn't.
  • Put time restrictions on how much time kids spend online.

Regularly monitoring your child's credit report can be a big step towards detecting any suspicious activity at an early stage. One of the easiest things you can do is put a freeze on their credit files to prevent unauthorized access. Freezing credit is simple and makes it more challenging—if not nearly impossible—for identity thieves to open accounts using their information.

Get more preventive strategies in the next installment

In the second part of this series, we'll delve deeper into some more specific preventive strategies and practical tips to protect your child's identity. Stay tuned as we reveal expert advice that will empower you to secure your children's future.

Pete Canavan
Written by
Pete Canavan
As an author, host of the Safety Talk radio show, and personal safety expert, Pete has made it his mission to shore up people’s safety. His extensive experience over the last 20 years as an IT security consultant, self-defense instructor, and public safety professional allows him to provide practical, actionable solutions to threats that exist in both the digital and physical worlds. In addition to writing a book about self-defense, he's been quoted and written about in major publications including the New York Post, Washington Post, and USA Today.

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