Protecting your children from identity thieves - WSFA.com Montgomery Alabama news.

Protecting your children from identity thieves

Source: MGN Online Source: MGN Online
BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) -

Twenty-five percent of all identity theft cases involve children so it is just as important to protect their information.

When FOX6 News Anchor Steve Crocker asked viewers on Facebook if they had or knew children who were victims of identity theft, it didn't take long to get responses.

While they did not want to talk on camera, his Facebook friends were quick to share stories of trying to buy cellphones for their children, only to find out someone else had purchased a phone using their child's name.

But Dr. John Sloan, who chairs the department of Justice Sciences at UAB, said being aware of your family's activity on Facebook and other social media is among the first steps to protecting your own information and your child's from hackers.

"The cyber bad guy will strike up a relationship and then start getting into my social security number looks like this, what does yours look like, you know that kind of thing," Sloan said.

Social media is not the only potential problem.

"Parents need to be just as vigilant about how children might share information through videogames and mobile device apps," Sloan said.

And we're not just talking little kids. As college students start reporting to campus, they may be tempted by attractive credit card offers. Sloan said even if the offer is legit, students still have to careful.

"If their personal computer is infected with malware, if the sites they are visiting are not secure, they are jeopardizing the security of the information they used to get the card as well as the credit card itself," Sloan said.

For all the focus on smartphones and computers, Sloan said the number one way indentity thieves do their damage is still by dumpster diving. So if you're not policing the paper as well as the digital, you may be helping to make their job easy.

"Big dumpsters in apartment buildings or you go to landfills and people are not careful about how they throw this stuff away," Sloan said.

Sloan said it is perfectly reasonable for a parent to ask a health care provider or a school system how they store information, who has access to it and how is it being used.

You have the right to know what steps are being taken to protect you.

For more tips on protecting your children online, please visit these links:

http://www.onguardonline.gov/articles/0040-child-identity-theft

http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0017-kids-and-computer-security

http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0031-protecting-your-childs-privacy-online

Copyright 2014 WBRC. All rights reserved.

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