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It may seem innocent enough, but uploading a picture to social media of a birthday party could actually be putting your child at risk of identity theft.
New research by Barclays has revealed that 82% of parents admit to regularly posting updates of their children online, with 30% happy to include personal information such as their children’s names, age and even the location of their school.
The term known as “sharenting”, which was formally added to the Collins English Dictionary in 2016, is used to describe parents who share photographs, stories and personal information about their children online. By doing so, parents may be unwittingly compromising their child’s future financial stability, leaving them vulnerable to identity theft. This means that when a child starts earning, fraudsters will find it easier to obtain a name, date of birth and home address to steal an identity and commit fraudulent acts such as opening bank accounts and applying for fraudulent loans.
More worryingly, there could be no indication of a crime being committed until their first credit check, by which time it will be too late.
Safeguarding personal data has never been more important.
So, how can you help protect your child's identity online?
Below, we’ve listed four steps which you can take to help minimise the threat of cyber-crime:
Check your privacy settings
Make sure all of your accounts are set to private. This means only those who you have approved can view and follow your movements online. By doing, you are minimising the risk of criminals being able to gain access to your digital footprint. It is also a good idea to ensure all geo-tags have been turned off as this pinpoints your location – including where you and your children live.
Do not use family details as a password
Avoid any passwords which could easily be linked back to you or your family. Surnames, school names, your grandma’s birthday, the town you live in and even the name of your favourite sports team can be guessed by fraudsters. All it takes is close analysis of the content you post regularly on social media to spot a trend.
Make sure you also change your password regularly and avoid predictable passwords. Use a mixture of letters, cases, numbers and symbols. Try and alternate different passwords for different accounts, and never keep a note of it in a central place such as a wallet or mobile phone.
Be mindful of what you post
Take a moment to pause before you post and be wary of publishing any information that could identity you and members of your family. For example, it is easy to upload a photo of your roast dinner with your new mobile phone number visibly pinned to the corkboard next to the fridge, or a postcard from your grandparents sitting on the kitchen counter. It is these small details fraudsters can easily zoom in on before making their move.
Make sure you also keep track of what your friends and family post as fraudsters can access your personal details through them. If you feel uncomfortable with a particular image or comment shared, tell them as they will probably return the favour.
Be cautious of public Wi-Fi and hotspots
We all like to be connected to the digital world and it may be tempting to tap into complimentary Wi-Fi available in airports, trains and hotels. However, try and refrain as these connections can be notoriously insecure, especially when you are sharing private information. Use your mobile data instead - that’s what it is there for.
If you would like further information on how you can protect yourself and your children’s identity online, visit our fraud and online security hub for further information.