How to protect you and your children’s accounts
Social media is no longer just a way for us to connect with friends and family. It’s how we connect with the world in general. By sharing photos, kids sporting events, places we like to visit, vacations, and other personal information, we make it easy for cyber thieves to gather specific data about our lives.
What exactly is cyber identity theft?
Online or cyber identity theft refers to a group of behaviors that can unfairly jeopardize or tarnish a victim’s reputation. Most commonly, this form of identity theft involves using someone’s likeness online, usually to pose as them and supplant their existing online presence.
For example, many parents like to share pictures of their kids online. But posting those precious photos could result in issues with identity theft, advertisements, or online predators.
Bree Fowler is the privacy editor for Consumer Reports. She warns parents to be careful. “Seemingly harmless information like your child’s name, their age, what they look like, where they go to school, all of that information can be used to create a profile that a hacker can use down the road for identity theft,” said Fowler.
How can you be sure your child’s identity is safe?
- Set your social accounts to their highest security and privacy settings.You should ensure that none of your accounts are leaking information to parties whom you don’t intend to share information. Also, make sure that you review your social media post visibility after software updates to make sure your settings remain private. Finally, make sure that your account security is strong by using complex and unique passwords, two-factor authentication and good account reset questions.
- Don’t use hashtags. It makes it easy for cybercriminals to find your photos.
- Don’t use geotags. It gives criminals an easy way to find your child’s location. If you do not change your privacy settings, each time you post or add new pictures it will tag the exact location where you posted from.
- Be skeptical of links to unfamiliar websites, especially ones that promise shocking video, photos or gossip. They may be designed to hijack control of your account and information, and trick your friends into doing the same.
- If you log into social media on someone else’s computer, remember to log off before leaving and do not check the box to remember your username or password.
What can you do if you become a victim?
- Contact the admins of the site or service where your identity is being abused or where your account was stolen.
- Notify friends, family and followers, if possible.Anyone who you regularly talk to or do business with has a right to know that you’re no longer in control of your online identity so that they don’t fall for any scams your identity thief might try.
- Monitor your online identity and change your passwords.As a precaution, you might want to monitor your other online accounts to verify that they haven’t been breached as well. Also, consider an identity theft protection service. Most of the top-rated services will monitor the use of your information on the Internet black market, allowing you to catch further abuse of your identity.