Although we often tend to forget it, children and adolescents are targets of choice for cybercriminals. They are not immune to identity theft, a phenomenon which is more common than we might think and which affects primary school children as well as high school and college students.
A crime that pays!
Stealing a child’s identity can really pay off. Since children don’t have a credit history and since these crimes take a long time to uncover, fraudsters have free reign to act. In many cases, it is only when they reach adulthood, when they apply for credit, that the victims discover what has been going on. To find the sensitive information they need, thieves use all the means at their disposal: hacking, phishing, social media scams, etc. Obtaining a child’s social insurance number (SIN) is worth its weight in gold.
Rarely used before adult age, a SIN may be necessary to obtain certain benefits or pensions, or for the purchase of financial products like education savings plans, etc. Your children’s personal information is valuable. That’s why certain precautions should be taken:
- Always ask why you have to give your child’s SIN and note the reason.
- Make sure the various organizations that make these requests are trustworthy.
- Keep a list handy of the organizations and businesses that have this information in their possession.
- Keep all your children’s identity cards in a safe place at home.
This way you will be able to react quickly if ever irregularities occur. If necessary, contact the credit agencies to check if a file exists in the name of your children.
Pitfalls to avoid
Tablets and smartphones are often used by young children and adolescents. Very active online, often on social media, they can spontaneously give out personal information:
- by wanting to belong to a specific group, participate in games, etc.
- by downloading applications (apps)
- by posting photos of their new driver’s licence, their first credit card, etc.
Here are some basic guidelines to prevent identity theft and ensure your children’s safety during their online activities.
- their full name
- their date and place of birth
- their address
NEVER POST OR SHARE(*):
- their home or cell phone number
- their passwords to anyone
- photos that may contain personal information (licences, cards, etc.)
- the privacy settings of different online accounts and subscriptions
(*) Beware: It is impossible to personally know all the friend relationships on social media. The friend of a friend may be a fraudster.
To learn more…
Read our articles
Here are some reports ont the subject of child identity theft:
- Global News report (2016) Canada
- Article: Why are Kids Targeted for Identity Theft?
- Article inSecurity Magazine : Study: 10% of Children are Identity Theft Victims on research conducted by the Carnegie Mellon University CyLab in Pittsburgh. Conducted in 2011, this study is still often cited in many articles on the subject.