How To Protect Kids From Online Scams And Identity Theft – NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth

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Playing games, making videos, and texting can be fun ways for kids to connect with their friends online, but they can also have a downside.

Children are more likely to fall for scams, ”said Lisa Plaggemier, acting executive director of the National Cybersecurity Alliance.

“Parents can be very reluctant to check children’s phones,” Plaggemier said. “They don’t want to violate their child’s privacy, but the reality is, especially with all the social media apps, they know exactly what your child is doing. So I think you should know that too.

Matthew DeSarno is the special agent in charge of the FBI office in Dallas and has said he wants parents to understand what their children are doing online.

“It’s important to educate yourself about the websites, software, games and apps your kids are using,” he said. “I think it’s important to check their social media and gaming profiles; look frequently at their publications, their photos; have conversations about what is and is not appropriate to share. “

The pandemic has forced screen time much earlier in children’s lives than some parents might have wished. So, Plaggemier encouraged checking security settings on their devices.

“Sit down with your child, open the app, go to settings and adjust these things in such a way that you feel comfortable,” she said.

An important setting to check is the location setting on a child’s phone. Plaggemier suggested disabling this.

“I think the most important piece of advice for parents is to have open and ongoing conversations about safe and appropriate online behavior,” DeSarno said.

Starting an open dialogue about some of the dangers online and creating simple rules can help keep children safe.

It’s really great to have a ruler, unless you’ve met someone IRL – – in real life – you might not want to correspond with them online, ”Plaggemier said.

A 2018 study produced by Javelin Strategy & Research showed that more than one million children were victims of identity theft with losses totaling more than $ 2.6 billion. The same study found that more than two-thirds of child victims were under the age of 7.

“Children’s identities are worth a lot on the black market. You potentially have a child’s new Social Security number and a clean credit history or no credit history and the bad guys are taking that information, ”Plaggemier said. “Your child might not realize that their identity has been compromised in any way until they are older and apply for their first credit card. “

If you have a young child at home, Plaggemier suggests that parents take this extra step.

If your 2-year-old hasn’t applied for a credit card or bought a car lately, I highly recommend that you freeze the credit of your child’s social security numbers with the credit bureau, ”Plaggemier said. .

The Identity Theft Resource Center has step-by-step instructions on how to freeze your child’s credit here.

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