INI Director Joins Webinar to Advise Parents on Child Identity Theft

April 03, 2013

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Children were found to be 51 percent more likely than adults to have their identity stolen, according to a 2011 study by Carnegie Mellon CyLab. INI Director Dr. Dena Haritos Tsamitis, along with Tim Woda, co-founder of UKnowKids, and Clay Nichols, chief creative officer of LookOut Social, discussed the growing problem of child identity theft in a webinar yesterday. CSID, an identity protection and fraud detection company, hosted the hour-long panel discussion that covered statistics in child identity theft and ways that parents could protect their families.

Dr. Tsamitis provided a real-life example of a friend in the information security field who discovered her young daughter's social security number had been in use eleven years before her birth. She faced a long, stressful process for clearing her financial history. Regardless of a parent's professional background, this type of situation is troublesome for any family.

Unlike previous generations, a modern parent faces two unique challenges. First, the time children spend online is increasing rapidly. Parental monitoring is difficult as children look to the Internet for a widening range of activities, from music downloading and gaming to doing homework and communicating with friends and family. Second, children are sharing their lives on social media and, in turn, potentially exposing their personal information in risky places.

Adding to the risk, parents have a tendency to disregard their children's personal credentials until they are in their late teens and preparing to apply for college loans and their own credit cards. The childhood years leave ample time for fraudulent credit activity on a child's social security number to go undetected.

About 88 percent of parents said they were interested in taking actions to protect their children against identity theft, according to a 2013 survey by CSID, but over half of the same parents (52 percent) were not taking preventive measures. The panel explored some strategies and products available to mitigate the risk of identity theft happening to children, including "family dinner" discussions and parental monitoring software.

"Parents can work to cultivate critical thinking skills in their kids, so they can make informed decisions no matter where they go on the Internet," said Dr. Tsamitis.

The basic four solutions from the panel were education, communication, vigilance and technology. Parents must first work to educate their children, as well as themselves, on Internet safety and the protection of personal information. They can make a habit of asking children what they do online and knowing the websites where they are spending their time. Parents also need to be vigilant to guard personal information, both online and offline. Finally, parents can verify the safety of their family and their information through technology options, such as parental monitoring software and identity protection services.

The panel agreed the best preventive measures involved "a healthy mix" of these solutions.

For more information, as well as a whitepaper and infographic on child identity theft, please visit www.CSID.com/securechildID.

Image source: CSID child identity theft infographic