Bad guys are getting credit cards, loans and even mortgages in the names of children. According to recent research, more than 1 million children were victims of identity theft or fraud in 2017. And that number could rise because of the comfort level younger generations have with technology. Their world has always been connected – friends, information and entertainment a few clicks away.

This digital lifestyle gives bad guys opportunities to get their hands on personal information. With children, fraudulent activity could go undetected for years and seriously damage their future credit ratings and financial foundation. So, it’s extremely important to take steps to help prevent issues.

As a parent, guardian or mentor, here are some tips to help you help them keep their information safe:

  • Educate them to protect personal information: Children may not understand the long-term implications of identity theft. Make sure they know to guard their Social Security Number, banking information and any credit or debit card numbers they have. They need to understand that strong passwords better protect information. Tell them to be careful about sharing any information on social media platforms.
  • Adjust parental controls to fit your family’s needs: Every device, app and browser has its own privacy and security settings, so it’s understandable if you feel a bit overwhelmed by all the options. In general, start with the strictest settings and adjust as needed.
  • Be aware of companies reporting a data breach: If your child has an account with that company, or that company may have your child’s personal information, take appropriate actions. Educate your child to watch for notifications about the situation and to share them with you. The research mentioned above estimates 39 percent of children who were victims of fraud had it happen after a breach, while only 19 percent of adult victims saw that connection.
  • Help them learn how to spot phishing attempts: Even adults fall victim to phishing attempts, so it’s important for kids to understand what information bad guys are after, and ways they may try to get that information. See our blog here for tips on how to identify and avoid phishing bait.

Visit AT&T’s Digital You for more resources aimed at empowering internet users – young and old – to enjoy the benefits of technology while helping consumers avoid some of the safety and security pitfalls.