ID Theft Affects 10% of Children

The issue of child identity theft is often overlooked by law enforcement, but it’s a growing area for criminals. Late last year Javelin Strategy & Research issued a report showing that the theft of personal information from minors has “reached a crisis level”, researchers said. The report found that one in 40 US households surveyed had at least one child whose personal information had been compromised by identity criminals: that translates to an incident rate of 2.5% of households with dependents under age 18. At particular risk are children in the lower-income ranges.

The always-on nature of the digital age amps up the danger level, because kids spend more and more time online, potentially exposing their information to internet-based scammers. Fortunately, Veracode noted in a handy infographic that that there are several steps that parents can take to monitor and control their children’s surfing behavior.

These tips include teaching children to:

  • Identify threats, and content that may concern parents
  • Never share personal information, passwords or account information
  • Not share photos or videos
  • Never message, chat or agree to meet people they do not know
  • Ask before installing or downloading new software, games or applications
  • Report anyone who harasses them

Increasing publicity is helping the cause along as well. The US Federal Trade Commission this month implemented a revised Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act Rule (COPPA), giving parents greater control over the online collection of their children’s personal information.

In light of the escalating usage of mobile devices and social networking sites, the revised COPPA widens the definition of children’s personal information to include persistent identifiers such as cookies that track a child’s activity online, as well as geolocation information, photos, videos and audio recordings.

It also has always required that kid-focused websites and online services give notice to parents and get their verifiable consent before collecting, using or disclosing personal information on children under 13, and to keep secure the information they collect.

Meanwhile, industry organizations like the (ISC)² have been working on bolstering safe surfing. In June, Scotiabank joined forces with the charitable arm of (ISC)² to bring the Safe and Secure Online program to Canada, which aims to equip students with trusted advice directly from information security experts.

"Young people have the ability and flexibility to keep up with rapidly changing social media technology, but they don't always have the judgment, sensitivity or awareness needed to protect themselves and respect others online”, said Greg Thompson, Scotiabank's Deputy chief information security officer and an (ISC)² Board member, in a statement.

Safe and Secure Online is a volunteer-based program that partners information security professionals with schools to educate students, parents and teachers on various cyber issues, including topics such as cyber-bullying, protecting personal information and sharing photos and video. The program uses peer-created content delivered by trained information security experts who volunteer to go into the classroom and speak with kids, as well as offer resources for parents and teachers.

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