VIDEO – A Shocking Statistic On Identity Theft
We’ve all heard the term identity theft mentioned before. But what is identity theft all about? We know it’s something we don’t want to happen to us, it’s obviously bad and we know it happens to other people. But I’m not sure that most of us understand exactly how our lives can be turned upside down by identity theft, nor how easily it can happen. And then of course the other question is what or how much can we do to avoid it?
What Is Identity Theft?
Let’s start with the basics – what is identity theft? It’s pretty much as it sounds – someone you probably don’t know steals your identity. They gain enough information about you that they’re able to pretend to be you, and authorities and companies you deal with believe that when they’re talking to this person they’re actually talking to you.
Why Steal Your Identity?
The most common reason for identity theft is money. These people may take money out of your bank accounts. They may apply for a loan or a credit card in your name. They may enter into a mobile phone or internet contract, or have their power account set up in your name. And once they’ve established that they’re you, they can easily change the accessibility of your accounts so that not only do they have full access to everything they need, but you soon find you’re locked out of your own accounts.
However there’s another more sinister reason for stealing your identity. With so much crime happening online these days (sextortion, image-based abuse, selling live streams and videos of unspeakable crimes committed against children), your identity may be something a criminal can hide behind. This makes you a target for the police to follow up. And while the chances are you won’t end up being charged for a crime you had nothing to do with, your name and reputation can still be tarnished even though you’ve done nothing wrong.
How Easily Can Your Identity Be Stolen?
These days unfortunately it isn’t hard for people to commit the crime of identity theft. If someone really wants to find out information about you it doesn’t take much – maybe a couple of clever phone calls, but probably not even that. A good look through a social media account can often do it with as little as an image, a full name and a date of birth as a good starting point. An image alone of a child in school uniform reveals a lot, and can be followed up by reading newsletters from the school (publicly available on school websites) and often discovering more useful information there.
Who Are The Most Likely Targets For Identity Theft?
Most people think adults are most likely to be targeted for identity theft because we generally have bank accounts and credit cards, and therefore money that can be stolen. As a result we don’t consider it as a huge concern for our children. But this is where we go wrong.
According to Identity Protector, a company in the U.S. who specialise in identity theft, children are 51 times more likely to be victims of identity theft than adults!
This is a huge revelation. We are being blindsided by this phenomenon and as such many of our children are being left very vulnerable to having their identities stolen. Most don’t even know it’s happened until years later!
Why Would Children Be Targeted So Much More Than Adults?
There are several reasons for this, but without going into too much detail three simple reasons are:
- They make it easy by revealing too much information about themselves publicly
- They have a clean credit history (ie no history!)
- They’re not likely to find out about it until they go to apply for credit themselves in a few year’s time
What Can You Can Do To Be Safe From Identity Theft?
This is a great question. To put it in perspective, unfortunately there are no guarantees in life that you or your children won’t ever be targeted for identity theft. However there are safeguards you can put in place to make you less likely to be a victim. Below are five useful tips that will help.
1. Don’t Use Your Face As Your Profile Picture On Social Media
Particularly for children, there really isn’t any need to have a photo of yourself displayed as your profile picture on social media sites. A picture of you can easily be used by others to set up a new profile pretending to be you.
2. Minimise The Information You Provide
Whether you’re filling out a form, purchasing a product or setting up a profile on a social media site or app, only enter the minimum amount of information required. If a lot of personal information is being requested and you’re not sure why it would be needed, think twice about signing up for the app.
3. Use The Highest Possible Privacy Settings
This is far from foolproof, and it’s something that needs to be monitored regularly. It’s always advisable to use the highest possible privacy settings on every social media platform you use. If no privacy settings are available and everything on the app can be seen by anyone, this should be a red flag to tell you that app is not safe to use.
4. Think Carefully Before Sharing Images
We’ve all heard the cliché that a picture can tell a thousand words. But it really can! Refrain from sharing images that reveal personal information about you, such as where you live (home or street sign), what school or sports team you belong to and more.
5. Be Aware of Scams
There are lots of people trying to fool others into providing them with information, and unfortunately on too many occasions it works. These people are clever and can be very convincing over the phone, and before you know it you’ve told them something they can use to steal your identity. The worst part is that you then feel silly that you’ve been conned so you’re too embarrassed to tell anyone about it – it’s the perfect crime.
We’re Barely Scratching The Surface
Identity theft is a huge issue in the 21st century and it’s only getting more common as people become more desperate for money and a better life. It’s vital that we teach our children what it takes to protect their privacy online so that they’re less likely to be come a victim of this crime. And while quick tips like the ones above can help, unfortunately the real solution isn’t quite so simple.
Perhaps the reason identity theft occurs so often is because protecting your children from identity theft isn’t easy; there’s no “quick fix” solution. The Peaceful Digital Parenting Solution is the best way I know of that will help you find out how you can effectively protect your children as best as possible from identity theft, as well as from all the other risks they’re vulnerable to as a consequence of what they do online.