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Could Identity Theft Happen to Your Kids?

During International Fraud Awareness Week, Payza is joining hundreds of other businesses and agencies in shining a spotlight on fraud in order to promote awareness, detection and prevention. Follow the Payza blog this week for insights on global fraud and tips on how to protect yourself and your business.

Big crime, little people: It’s often forgotten that adults are not the only victims of identity theft. Unfortunately children are actually a very lucrative target for cybercriminals. And the worst part is that the identity theft can easily go unnoticed until the victim, perhaps years later, applies for their first credit card.

With smartphones and social media now almost universal, parents need to play an active role in protecting their child’s information and teaching them how to behave responsibly online.

Underage, Online and Oversharing

In a recent survey conducted by Google, a shocking one-third of the 250 respondents between 18 and 34 said that they would rather their identity be stolen than have their Facebook history revealed to the world. These people are either sharing way too much over social media, or they don’t realize just how much damage identity theft can cause.

The most common way for a fraudster to steal from your children is by using their social security number to open a credit card or take out a loan in your child’s name. This could go undetected for years, with the debts accumulating and causing serious damage to your child’s credit rating. In the future, this bad credit could prevent them from qualifying for a credit card, a loan or a mortgage, and could stick with them for their entire lives.

Keeping Little Ones Safe

It’s a frightening thought for any parent to realize how much online information about their child is within reach of hackers. Venturebeat has reported that the average age for kids to start using mobile devices is 8 years old, while kids ages 12 to 17 are spending an average of 7 hours per week playing games on their smartphones and tablets. Facebook also recently announced an updated privacy policy which allows users 13 to 17 to make their profiles publicly visible to anyone, making it even easier for criminals to gather sensitive personal information from children.

Parents, in this age of hyperconnectivity, it’s important to play a larger role in keeping your child’s personal information private and teaching them how to stay safe online. Make sure to destroy or securely store any documents containing their social security numbers, and talk to your kids about what kind of information isn’t safe to share on Facebook and other social media. Teach them that anyone can see what they post, not only criminals but also teachers, potential employers – and even you. You can bet they wouldn’t be happy about that!

Here’s how you can start protecting your family right now: