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How to Protect Your Child From Identity Theft

More than 1 million children were victims of identity theft in 2017 alone.

One of the scariest forms of cybercrime is identity theft, and children are falling prey to these scams in higher numbers than ever before. While identity theft is inflicted upon adults by familiar players, like a disgruntled friend or co-worker, this is rarely the case with a child whose identity is stolen by a faceless hacker. Anyone with a social security number and mobile data can be victimized by identity theft nowadays.

Read More: How to Prevent Identity Theft When You’re Online

As a parent, you should ensure that your children are protected from cybercrime. If they use your Android device frequently to play games, install antivirus software on your phone, like dfndr security. This AV-TEST approved app has a full virus scan feature that checks your mobile device for any malware or potential threats, eliminating them instantly. If your child is older and you’ve generously granted him or her with an Android, be sure they have dfndr security installed and have activated the full virus scan feature.

It can feel helpless on how to protect what’s most important to you, but knowing how this faceless enemy operates gives you the power to support your children as they grow up in the digital age.

The Stats on Child Identity Theft
Listen to these sobering stats. In 2017 alone, there were more than 1 million children targeted by cybercriminals. The stolen information was commonly used to extort money from parents. $2.6 billion in losses were caused by hackers who stole the data of children, regardless of age. Out of that $2.6 billion, families endured losses of approximately $540 million, while the rest was spent by the authorities and government.

While 60% of adults who fall prey to identity theft likely knows the perpetrator (a vengeful ex-partner or cousin, for example), only 7% of children were found to be connected to a perpetrator. Another shocking stat is that 11% of households in the U.S. reported that at least one child had personal information compromised in 2017. It’s also easier for criminals to target children because their parents are unlikely to check their child’s credit report.

The Tell-Tale Signs
The Federal Trade Commission outlines some ways your child’s identity may have been stolen. First, if your child is rejected for benefits because an account was already opened elsewhere, that’s a huge clue. Another example is if the IRS sends a notice claiming your child should have paid income taxes but didn’t, or you discover your child’s Social Security number appeared on another tax form — these are both red flags to pay attention to.

Additionally, if debt collectors begin calling regarding unpaid products and services that your child never purchased or used, this could be identity theft.

Don’t Feel Paralyzed; Get Proactive
Monitor your child’s phone or your own phone to ensure apps are locked down with parental controls, so only certain apps can be opened. It’s also important to have a conversation with your child about being prudent when sharing photos, videos, or any sensitive data with friends. Having an open, honest dialogue means your children are more likely to admit sharing the wrong information or experiencing oddities when using apps.