As Mom’s we protect our children from a number of things on a daily basis: sharp corners, stairs, choking, the list goes on. But what some Mom’s might not understand is that they are putting their child at risk for identity theft, without even knowing it!
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In a society where social media is prevalent and you’re rewarded with like’s and hearts for oversharing, some Mom’s don’t understand that they are putting their child’s identity at risk of theft.
Just because you’re not posting your child’s social security number on Facebook, doesn’t mean you’re keeping them 100% safe from online predators and identity theft.
Take a note from my tips below to protect your child’s (and even your) online identity from theft.
Tips to Protect Your Child’s Identity from Theft
Keep Your Settings Private
My child is adorable. Yours is too. And, sometimes, as Mom’s we want to share that with world and say “Look how cute my kid is!” Go for it! But, first, make sure your profile is set to private. Or at least set the photo to private.
This will allow your friends and family to see just how cute your child is, without exposing them to the cruel, creepy world that is social media.
One thing to keep in mind is that, no matter your Facebook settings, your cover image can be viewed by the public. So, don’t post your child’s photo in the cover image.
And, consider that what’s on the internet, stays on the internet. Do you think your child wants diaper photos popping up when they’re 20-years-old and trying to get a job?
Use Code Names
I refer to my munchkin as #1 because he’s my firstborn. #1 does some hilarious things and I enjoy telling the Twitterverse about them.
However, I make sure to keep his name under wraps. I don’t know any of my Twitter followers in person, and while they are all awesome folks, I don’t feel comfortable sharing that kind of information with strangers.
Now, if you like to share funny stories in the social media world, just chose code names for your family members. You don’t have to assign them numbers, you could always use their first initial or something completely made up.
I don’t recommend using family nicknames, though. If a stranger finds out your child’s nickname, they could use that to their advantage to lure your child into a false sense of security.
Don’t Share Specifics
In the same instance, don’t share details about your child. Sure, you may be excited about their growth spurt, but the world (other than your doctor) shouldn’t have the low down on their height and weight.
If you must share the information, send it in private messages to your family members and friends, or post it with privacy settings, at least.
Likewise, don’t share specifics about your child’s activities. By posting dates, times and locations of youth sporting events, you may be inviting more than friendly fans.
Never Post Photos with Details
I’m not going to tell you not to post photos. If you want to, do it. Just remember your privacy settings. But, even with those settings, make sure you’re cognizant of what you’re posting so you can protect your child from identity theft.
Does your photo contain your child’s name? House address? Specific location? Child’s school?
Avoid posting those photos! They give away too much information.
Additionally, consider the fact that posting your child’s photo on their birthday will then tell the world the exact date of birth of your child. And a birth date, paired with another bit of information could pose dangerous in the wrong hands.
Make sure those photos are set to private and only visible by close family and friends.
Note: You may think I’m a hypocrite, as my website and social media accounts have photos of a woman and child, but rest assured, those aren’t me and my munchkin, those are stock images.
People like checking-in on Facebook, or tagging their location on Instagram. What they might not consider is that they’re not only telling the world where they are, but they’re also telling the world where they’re not.
By saying you’re on a camping trip, you’re telling the world you’re not at home. And if you broke the rule about posting photos of your house, you’ve also told the world where your house is and that it’s sitting empty.
If you are adamant about checking in somewhere, do it. But, wait until the day you leave to do so. You’ll be able to tell the world you went on some magical vacation, but you’ll be on the way home when you do.
They Don’t Need an Email Address
A lot of parents are apt to rush and create an email address for their child once they’ve picked out a name. Don’t. One, you really don’t know which email provider will be top notch in fifteen years (remember how the Hotmail rage transitioned to Gmail?). And, two, creating an account now will just open it up to spam. So, even if you’re tempted to, just don’t.
If you want to buy up their name in a domain name, I mean, I guess you can. If you think your child is going to be some hotshot that needs their own web address. Just make sure to purchase the privacy option so your name and address aren’t accessible to the wrong people.
Do a regular check up on your child’s name via Google, every so often. If you find information that shouldn’t be accessible to the general public, get it removed.
You could even go so far as to set up a Google alert for their name. That way, you’ll be alerted any time it pops up online.
Communication is Key
Communicate this with your relatives
Make sure you let your relatives know how you feel about posting/sharing your child’s photo and information on social media. Stand firm if you have to – it’s your child!
Our relatives all know that we rarely, if ever, post photos of our child online. When we do, we post them with privacy settings.
We allow them to share the photos to their walls, but they have to do so through the ‘share’ button, that way we can trace where the photo goes and how and who it’s visible to.
What we don’t allow is for them to save the photo and re-post it, because then, we’d have no idea where the photo could end up. We also don’t allow them to post photos they’ve taken of our child.
Basically, we want everything to be linked to our accounts so we can keep tabs on where it ends up. I recommend you do the same!
Communicate This to Your Child
Before you know it, your child is going to be full-grown and able to access the internet without your watchful eye. They’ll even get a Facebook account.
Whatever you do, make sure, before that day comes, that you explain to your child what information they should and should not post online.
Worried that Identity Theft has Already Happened?
If you’re concerned that your child’s identity has been stolen, check out this article by Experian. It will tell you everything you need to do to check their credit report.
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