Child identity theft is a term that was coined after 2016 as many cybercriminals started using the stolen identity of children to get different benefits for themselves. Over 3 million children’s records are stolen and sold on the dark web every year.
The primary source of information for hackers is teen dating websites, where most youngsters give all their details without a second thought. This article will list crucial ways you can use to protect your children from the prying eyes of online criminals.
Coercion Crime 1:
Tiffany met Ethan in the junior Mathalete, found his social media profile, connected with him, and fell in love with him in a few months. Tiffany did whatever he said through chat.
They decided to meet finally during the summer break, and she was shocked to discover it wasn’t Ethan but his dad she was chatting to all these days.
The middle-aged man had used his son’s picture on this profile and tried to persuade Tiffany, saying it was his personality and intellect she loved and not his face or appearance. The confused teenager decided to confide with her parents, who immediately reported to the CISA, and the man got arrested for coercion.
Ethan’s mother separated from him and had a firm restraining order preventing the man from coming anywhere near her or her son. Tiffany was misled and saved at the right moment because she chose to trust her parents over the criminal.
Tiffany’s parents have done the following to keep her safer
- Installed a good parental control setting like Bark that monitors all social media conversations and warns the parents if something inappropriate or violent gets mentioned frequently in the chat.
- They should have activated the webcam recording facility some parental control packages provide and regularly checked what gets done through the webcam.
- They should have educated Tiffany regarding real mature love and online scams and warned her not to trust everyone blindly.
Identity Theft 2:
Just like Tiffany, Ethan also suffered from online scamming from his father. Being a top student sought out by many colleges, he had high hopes of getting a reasonable student loan and a good scholarship.
When Ethan applied for student loans and scholarships, banks and colleges declined his application for the following reasons:
- Ethan had lousy credit owing several thousand dollars in utility bills, debt, and loans, etc.
- He had already used his credentials to secure a full scholarship in another institution far away from the USA.
- Ethan had a police case registered under his name for injuring a group of people in a drunk and driving accident.
It was evident to the investigators that Ethan had done none of it, and his criminal father had used his identity to commit all these crimes. Ethan’s mother should have taken the following steps to protect her son.
- She should have informed him regarding the numerous thefts that might occur under his name if he disclosed his details carelessly to everyone.
- All the details stolen from Ethan were mentioned in his very professionally styled LinkedIn profile. The profile was public, enabling all the colleges and banks to view his details. The public profile led his father to steal all the details from him.
- Train the children to set the social media settings to Private on all occasions and only allow their close friends or contact to view them.
The authorities got a credit freeze on his account and reported the identity theft on FTC’s identitytheft.gov website.
Unwanted Sales/ Phishing Attack 3:
Michael was a studious boy in his class but had enormous difficulty with Math. He received a personal message from his math tutor on Facebook asking him to buy a unique guide to help him do the homework better.
The message led him to a private website that promised a package that had solved answers for all math problems in the textbook, question paper collections, mock tests, etc.
Michael asked his parents to buy the package for him, and they promptly did without checking the website’s authenticity. They losе over $2000 instantly trying to purchase the package.
The parents should have checked directly with the school math tutor whether he sends the message. If so, he would have asked them to transfer money to his account through GPay or to his bank account number. The teacher failed to protect his identity and somehow leaked his students’ details.
Someone used his identity and guided the parents to purchase from their fake site, stealing their money. Further investigation showed many students had fallen prey to the scam, just like Michael. The parents should have installed robust antivirus software like AVG or Kaspersky in their system, which would warn them when they enter unsecured websites.
Tarnishing One’s Reputation 4:
Dorothy went out with her senior on a few dates and ended it because she felt he was too dominating. The highly irritated Ex started spreading unwanted rumours about her on all social media pages, chats, the internet, etc. He would post obscene morphed pictures of her on the internet, tell others how horrible she was with him, comment rudely about her appearance, etc.
The Ex got arrested for defaming and harassment and just excused with a warning because he was a minor. But Dorothy’s reputation got damaged, and she went through a terrible phase of her life where everybody suspected her.
Dorothy’s parents approached an online reputation management company to hide all traces of her defamation from the internet. It took them over a month to do it. Dorothy changed her style, identity and started a new fresh life.
Child Benefit Stealing 5:
Timothy’s parents applied for a medical benefit and insurance premium discount for their terminally ill son. They were shocked to know someone already claimed the insurance amount in full due to leakage in the medical details.
The parents had asked for help from various NGOs and social media disclosing their son’s details which led to identity theft. The worst part was, there wasn’t any way to reclaim the lost money. Be very careful in disclosing personal information offline too.
Never let your children go out with strangers without checking about their legit identity on the Nuwber website. Use online services to check the legitimacy of the organizations and whether they exist. Warn your children to choose dates carefully and keep them warned about the possible online attacks and prepare them to face them with courage. Disclose your insurance and medical details only to reputable, well-known organizations.