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Since the Coronavirus pandemic began, kids have been more reliant on the use of the internet and their devices. Social media, Zoom classes, school assignments, messaging apps, and more are just a few of the things children are doing online. However, the increase of these online activities has left kids exposed to identity theft.
How Are Children Being Exposed To Identity Theft Online?
There are pros and cons to using social media, especially for kids. Yes, they do get to connect with friends and family near and far. However, social media platforms like Snapchat and Instagram include identity thieves who look to take advantage of children. They use a child’s naiveness and trusting nature to persuade them. This can lead to children sharing personal information and clicking on links that lead to the device or account being hacked.
With many children doing school classes and work from home, they are heavily relying on their personal and school-provided email accounts for communication. Many identity thieves utilize emails to:
- Send links or software that lead to malware infecting the child’s device.
- Email fake messages to persuade children to provide their personal or account information.
Even though most of these types of emails typically go into one’s spam or junk folder, they do sometimes end up in the Inbox.
Private and Text Messaging
With Coronavirus precautions, many children are having to utilize texting or private messaging app to talk with friends, classmates, and family members. Besides the device’s built-in texting apps, kids may utilize Skype, Kik, Messenger, or WhatsApp.
However, these applications open children up to be contacted by anyone like identity thieves and other online criminals. If not monitored properly by parents, kids can succumb to their persuasive efforts.
Why Are Children Targeted By Identity Thieves?
Most Children Are Naive and Easily Trusting
As we stated previously, identity thieves rely on a child’s lack of experience and trusting nature to persuade them. By assuming a fake identity close to the child’s age, pretending to be a legitimate company, or just being friendly, identity thieves can persuade children to give them what they want. They will utilize the necessary tactics to gain the child’s trust and establish a relationship with them. So, when they ask for their personal or account information, they will provide it without a second thought.
Less Likely For Identity Thieves To Get Caught
Young children aren’t typically known to have credit cards, loans, or bank accounts. With this, parents are less likely to check on their children’s credit status. So, an identity thief can obtain a child’s personal information like their full name, DOB, or Social Security Number, and open a credit card, loan, or financial account in their name under the radar. Unfortunately, most parents do not know this has occurred until it’s too late and their children are teenagers.
Our Advice: Be proactive and check your child’s credit to ensure there are no issues. Also, make sure to routinely check their online and device activities using parental controls and parental monitoring software. By doing so, you can prevent identity thieves from targeting your child in the first place.