It may seem harmless when your teenager is talking to friends and loved ones over a social media website, but you should not get too complacent about your teen’s online safety. Bank Rate explains that roughly 31 percent of new identity theft cases that are reported each year are with people younger than 18 years old. Even though your teenager may not be old enough to take out a credit card or get a loan, an enterprising thief can use his or her data to get new credit.
The Over Sharing Risk
When your teen or tween is using social media to stay connected, the primary risk involved is over sharing data. ProtectCell.com suggests that teenagers are sharing more information over the Internet than ever before, even if they’ve enabled privacy settings on the account.
The risk associated with over sharing is that a thief can use the information to get new forms of credit. A social security number is not the only vital piece of data that a thief needs. The Better Business Bureau says that simply listing your hometown, full name and age are sometimes enough for you to become a victim of identity theft. Since teens are likely to provide that data on their social media accounts, they are already giving away too much.
Focus on Awareness
When you are concerned that your teen may become the victim of identity theft, the key to protecting them is education and awareness.
Teach yourself the basics of using the social media accounts that your teen enjoys. Create a personal account and set up a profile. Pay attention to the data that the social media website requires or requests so that you are armed with knowledge. By understanding how the platform works, you are able to recognize the information that your teen may have unwittingly provided. On his website, Dr. Steven A. Lazarus suggests adding your teen’s account to your friend’s list so that you are also able to monitor his or her activities on the media outlet.
After you are aware of the risks and the details your teen may have provided, talk to him or her about the profile information. Educate your teen about the risks of over sharing data via the Internet. Your teen cannot take measures to protect his or her identity if he or she is not aware of the risks. Talk about the potential problems and give suggestions to help limit the possible problems that may arise.
Monitor Your Teen’s Information
Reduce the risks your teen faces by obtaining a copy of his or her credit report on a regular basis and working with appropriate credit monitoring services. While you may not be able to completely prevent identity theft, the Lifelock Crunchbase Profile suggests that monitoring services are willing to offer guarantees that help you manage the situations if identity theft is discovered.
A key reason that teens face financial problems from identity theft is that it is usually not discovered until a teen is ready to apply for a driver’s license or a college loan, states Bank Rate. If you obtain a credit report on behalf of your teen each year, you can discover a theft before it gets out of control.
Although social media is useful when you want to stay in touch with loved ones or friends, it also has risks that your teen may face. By focusing on increasing your awareness and educating your teen, you’re more likely to prevent the all-to-scary scenario of identity theft.