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Mobile Device Statistics on Our Children

I found these mobile device statistics on our children’s use of technology to be eye-opening. 38% of kids under 2 have used a mobile device – the digital babysitter, I suppose. Anyway, I think it’s important that we know what direction our kids are heading and what we, as parents, are doing to point them there. Part of security involves access: how much they have, how well they are monitored and what the consequences are for improper use.

Zero_to_Eight_2013_infographic

John Sileo is an author and highly engaging speaker on internet privacy, identity theft and technology security. He is CEO of The Sileo Group, which helps organizations to protect the privacy that drives their profitability. His recent engagements include presentations at The Pentagon, Visa, Homeland Security and Northrop Grumman as well as media appearances on 60 MinutesAnderson Cooper and Fox Business. Contact him directly on 800.258.8076.

Is There a Good Side to Facebook?

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AskSileo Episode 5: Is there a good side to Facebook?

There are absolutely good sides to Facebook and social networking. They engage people in ways that they aren’t engaged otherwise. As your children experience that moment of euphoria that comes from these new connections, use their enthusiasm to start a conversation about what is appropriate online and what isn’t. The more you get involved, the safer they will be.

What are your questions? Let me know if the comments box below. Who knows, your question might appear next on AskSileo!
For more tips on privacy, identity and reputation control, subscribe to the AskSileo video series or to the Sileo Blog.

Does Facebook Chemically Addict My Child?

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AskSileo Episode 4: Does Facebook Chemically Addict My Child?

When we talk about ourselves, it is scientifically proven that we get mini hits of a natural drug called dopamine. It makes us feel better and because of that, it is addictive. Facebook, and social media are all about talking about ourselves. Why does Facebook have 1 Billion users? Because they have an addictive business model, and we are it’s test subjects.

What are your questions? Let me know if the comments box below. Who knows, your question might appear next on AskSileo!
For more tips on privacy, identity and reputation control, subscribe to the AskSileo video series or to the Sileo Blog.

How Long Does it Take to Secure Facebook?

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AskSileo Episode 3: How long should I spend setting up Facebook’s privacy and security settings?

If you haven’t spent at least 90 minutes with your child setting up their Facebook account, you can be pretty certain that they are not as protected as they should be. Here are the three most important security steps that will make your child much safer on social media:

  • Read through and customize each Privacy Setting in Facebook
  • Do the same for the Security Settings
  • If your child is old enough (if they are following the 13 and older rule, they are old enough) have them read through Facebook’s Data Use Policy, taking notes on what they learn. There is nothing like reading it for themselves to get them to care about what they are exposing to the world.
What are your questions? Let me know if the comments box below. Who knows, your question might appear next on AskSileo!
For more tips on privacy, identity and reputation control, subscribe to the AskSileo video series or to the Sileo Blog.

Are Your Kids Being Pressured to Use Facebook?

AskSileo Episode 2: Is there Social Pressure to be on Facebook?

Undoubtedly, our kids face social pressure and pay a penalty if they decide to not be on Facebook. They are often accused of not being cool, feel left out of social events and updates that are no longer communicated in person and are looked at differently (out of touch) for choosing to not join the masses.

I want to hear about the social pressures your kids have faced! Share with us in the comments below. 
For more tips on privacy, identity and reputation control, subscribe to the AskSileo video series or to the Sileo Blog.

U.S. expands online child privacy laws, but glaring loopholes remain

Federal regulators have recently made some progress with regard to protecting the privacy of minors online by adding language specific to applications and social networks – to a certain extent. However, perhaps the amendments made to the Children's Online Privacy Act (COPPA) of 1998 should not be seen as a sweeping victory for parents everywhere, but as an indication of how much farther we still have to go.

For starters, the new rules, which don't go into effect until July of 2013, only apply to children under the age of 13. This is likely of little consolation to the parents of a 15-year-old boy or girl growing up in a world where their entire lives are being documented on the internet.

Furthermore, while the new regulations handed down by the Federal Trade Commission will require websites and applications geared toward children to obtain permission from parents before gathering data on their kids, it does not hold app stores accountable.

Without putting any responsibility on the likes of Apple and Google to ensure content in their online stores adhere to such privacy protections, it is that much easier for laws like COPPA to be circumvented.

It doesn't stop there, unfortunately. The updated rules only require so-called software add-ons, seen on millions of websites, such as the Facebook "Like" button, to adhere to child online privacy protections if their developers have actual knowledge that the site or app is targeting children, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Online privacy is a serious issue that many adults, let alone children, don't bother to try to understand. Regulators may have changed the rules but, considering the glaring loopholes that remain, one would be hard-pressed to categorize them as significant upgrades.

Whether you are a stay-at-home parent or a Fortune 500 CEO, protecting online privacy for yourself and your children can't be an "if-I-get-around-to-it" kind of thing. It has to be a priority that we are vigilant about and that makes us demand more than small steps in the right direction.

John Sileo is an online privacy expert and keynote speaker on social media privacy, identity theft and fraud. His clients included the Department of Defense, Pfizer, and Homeland Security. See his recent work on 60 Minutes, Anderson Cooper and Fox Business.

Oh No! My Kid Wants to Get on Facebook… What Now?

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I’m starting a new video series on my AskSileo YouTube channel to address common questions that parents have about their kid’s safety on Facebook and online privacy in general.

AskSileo Episode 1: Children’s Safety on Facebook and Social Networking (drawing from first-hand experience)

I get this question all of the time: Is my kid safe on Facebook? The answer to that questions depends on three basic factors:

  • The amount of time you have invested in helping your child set up their Facebook account. If you haven’t spent at least 90 minutes in the process, they are in no way safe. It takes at least 1.5 hours to wisely populate their profile, customize privacy and security settings and read through the Facebook Data Use Policy (notice that Facebook no longer refers to it as a privacy policy, because the reality is that you have almost no privacy on Facebook).
  • The amount of time you have spent training your child in an age appropriate way on the risks associated with sharing information on Facebook (stalking, Like-jacking, college admissions background checks, malware loading, identity theft, cyber bullying, social manipulation, digital blackmail, location tracking, surfing behavior analysis, purchase and sale of private information by marketing companies, etc.)
  • The degree to which you engage in Facebook yourself and use it as a tool to communicate and monitor your child’s online behavior. Social media is about conversation, and the most important person you can converse with is your child. In the same way that you would parent them in a restaurant if they used foul language, wore risque clothing or bullied another child, so you must be part of their virtual life. If you are not involved in your child’s online life on a daily basis, they have an identity about which you know nothing.
It’s one thing to talk about privacy as an expert on the topic and another to actually live through it with a child (without killing them). Which is why I have decided to create a video log while helping my 14-year-old daughter get safely onto Facebook. Enough theory, let’s talk practice.
I will admit right up front that I am learning as much as you are during this process, so your comments and feedback below are welcomed and will help educate other parents just trying to figure this thing out.
What are your questions? Let me know if the comments box below. Who knows, your question might appear next on AskSileo!
For more tips on privacy, identity and reputation control, subscribe to the AskSileo video series or to the Sileo Blog.

How to Prevent Child Identity Theft

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Fraud Expert John Sileo discusses why your child is 51X more likely to become a victim of ID Theft on Fox Business.

Why are our kids, the very people we most want to protect, so vulnerable to identity theft? Because they have unused, unblemished credit profiles. According to Carnegie Mellon University’s CyLab 10.2% of the children in a recent report had someone else using their Social Security numbers. That figure is 51 times higher than the rate for adults of the same population.

Thieves steal a child’s identity early on, nurture it until they have a solid credit score, and then abuse and discard it. If it’s not discovered in time, fraudulent use of your child’s identity could mean the loss of educational and job opportunities and starting off adulthood at a serious disadvantage with someone else’s bad credit in her name.

Oddly enough, credit checks do not have any way to match your child’s date of birth with that listed with the Social Security Administration. Therefore, the criminal can put down any date of birth and gain access to your child’s credit. The most unsettling part is thatthe age of the applicant (in this case,the person posing as your child) becomes official with the credit bureaus upon the first credit application.This makes clearing a sabotaged credit record even more difficult because you have to prove to the credit bureau that your child is a child and not responsible for thousands of dollars of debt.

In most cases, you won’t discover the illegal purchases and identity theft until your child applies for a job, tries to get a driver’s license or enters college. At that point, you are left with the time-consuming dilemma of cleaning up someone else’s fraudulent mess. If only clearing up a credit report was as easy as cleaning up after your kids.

Common Sources of Child Identity Theft

  1. Undocumented Workers who need identities to keep working in the US (see NBC News Video Above).
  2. Organized Criminals who reap huge financial gains with little risk of prosecution.
  3. Friendly Fraudsters (friends and relatives) who abuse their relationship with the child to cover debts and expensive habits.

Here are some of the ways your child’s information is stolen:

  • When registering for daycare, schools and recreational sports
  • On medical, dental and hospital records
  • When joining organizations like the Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, etc.
  • When their identity is stored and accessed by volunteers or employees
  • When one of the above organizations is breached by a hacker or malicious software
  • When an adult befriends your child on a Facebook and socially engineers private information out of them

For parents, cleaning up the disaster of identity theft for their children is costly and incredibly time consuming. Getting a new Social Security number is almost impossible, and rarely the best option. Taking steps right now to protect your child from this horrible crime is one of the greatest investments you will ever make in their financial and emotional future.

Consequences of Child ID Theft

Acting now on behalf of your child will protect them from consequences common to child victims:

  • Starting adulthood with a credit rating low enough to scare away the hungriest of loan sharks.
  • Being denied a loan, credit card or apartment rental because of a crime committed 10-15 years earlier .
  • Being denied access to college, financial aid or a new job based on a past criminal record, falsified earnings or tarnished reputation.
  • Having an arrest warrant for crimes your child didn’t commit.

Protecting Your Children

In the same way that you can’t protect your children from every bruise and scrape, you can’t entirely remove the risk of identity theft. You can, however, prevent or soften the fall if it does happen. Take these steps first:

  1. Watch for mail in your child’s name. This is a potential sign that credit has been established using their identity. The most common types of mail that signal identity theft are financial (pre-approved credit cards, etc.).
  2. Consider ordering a free credit report for your child. If you suspect foul play, write to the three credit reporting bureaus (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion) to see if your child has a credit profile (no profile, no chance that it is being used illegally). If they do have an active credit profile, you will need to resolve this with the specific credit bureau. Please note that requesting your child’s credit report repeatedly can actually establish a credit profile in their name. For a more convenient option, use an identity monitoring service for you and your family that alerts you when credit is established in any of your names.
  3. Stop giving out your child’s personal information. Until you are confident that it is absolutely necessary to receive the services desired, withhold their personal information. More than 80% of organizations that ask for your child’s Social Security number don’t actually need it to establish services. If you must give it, ask them how they will use it, how long they will keep it and how it will be protected while they have it.
  4. Protect your child’s identity documents. Birth certificates, passports, bank account information, wills and trusts involving children should all be locked securely in a fire-safe or bank’s safety deposit box. Physical document theft is one of the most prevalent ways kid’s identities are stolen.
  5. If you find evidence of fraudulent activity, contact the police, the source of the fraud and all three credit bureaus. Filing a police report helps to establish your child’s innocence in an official way.Have the credit bureaus FREEZE your child’s credit for maximum protection. Keep detailed records of all correspondence between yourself, the police, the merchant and the credit bureaus. It will come in handy should you ever find yourself in court, as I did.
  6. Educate your children on the importance of protecting their personal information. Teach them about the value of their personal information: their name, address, phone numbers, email address, Social Security Number and any passwords and PIN numbers. Reinforce that they own their private information and that it should not be shared with friends, over the internet or with anyone whom they don’t know or trust.Education is absolutely the best financial gift you will ever give to them.

In the case of child identity theft, an ounce of prevention is worth a lifetime of financial security. Don’t let the center of your universe become just another statistic. Because you love and protect your children as much as I do, start this process immediately.

John Sileo is an award-winning author and speaker on social media privacy, data security, fraud and identity theft. His clients include the Department of Defense, Pfizer, the FDIC, and Homeland Security. Sample his Keynote Presentations or watch him on Anderson Cooper, 60 Minutes or Fox Business

Child ID Theft Expert: Your Child is 51X More Likely to Become Victim

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Allowing our children the innocence of their childhood is paramount to us as parents.  Because our children are pretty much the center of our universe, we want to do everything in our power to keep them safe and to safeguard their futures. In this information age, identity theft has become global in its reach and can have devastating consequences for our children’s futures if we’re not vigilant from the day they acquire a Social Security number.

Why are our kids, the very people we most want to protect, so vulnerable? Because they have unused, unblemished credit profiles. Richard Power, Distinguished Fellow, Carnegie Mellon CyLab, recently published the first ever child identity theft report based on identity protection scans of over 40,000 U.S. children. It is extremely alarming that 10.2% of the children in the report had someone else using their Social Security numbers. That figure is 51 times higher than the rate for adults of the same population.

We take so many steps to protect our children. But how often do you check their credit report? “Check my kid’s …credit report?,” I can hear you say. “She is only seven! She doesn’t even have her front teeth yet, let alone a credit card! There are so many years to go before we need to worry about that. Right?”

Unfortunately, no. Because children have untouched and unblemished credit records, they are highly attractive targets. Child identity theft is profitable, hard to detect and a nightmare to recover. Thieves steal a child’s identity early on, nurture it until they have a solid credit score, and then abuse and discard it. If it’s not discovered in time, fraudulent use of your child’s identity could mean the loss of educational and job opportunities and starting off adulthood at a serious disadvantage with someone else’s bad credit in her name. All an identity thief needs to ruin your child’s bright financial future is her name and Social Security Number.

“Shouldn’t my child’s age show up on any credit background check, shouldn’t the merchant recognize that the person in front of them buying a car on credit isn’t seven years old?” you ask. Yes, it should, but the people screening the credit report rarely give it the time and care necessary to detect fraud.

All too often, background checks involve simply matching the name and the Social Security number provided. This leaves doors wide open for scandalous minds to wreak havoc on your child’s perfect credit. The most unsettling part is that the age of the applicant (in this case, the person posing as your child) becomes official with the credit bureaus upon the first credit application. This makes clearing a sabotaged credit record even more difficult because you have to prove to the credit bureau that your child is only seven and isn’t responsible for thousands of dollars of debt.

In no time at all, your child could have a maxed out credit card, unpaid bills and a huge mortgage for beachfront property across the country. You might not discover the illegal purchases until your child opens a bank account, applies for a job, tries to get a driver’s license or enters college. At that point, you are left with the time-consuming dilemma of cleaning up someone else’s fraudulent mess. If only clearing up a credit report was as easy as cleaning up after your kids.

Do the gaping holes in our current credit system and the audacity of criminals leave you enraged? They should. It is imperative that you use your anger as fuel to protect and prepare your children’s future before it is too late. In Part II of this series, we will talk about the specific steps to take in order to protect your child from identity theft.

John Sileo lost almost a half-million dollars, his business and his reputation to identity theft. Since then, he’s become America’s leading keynote speaker on identity theft, social media exposure and weapons of manipulation. His clients include the Department of Defense, Pfizer and Homeland Security. To learn more, visit ThinkLikeASpy.com.

 

Child Identity Theft (Part II)

If you missed the first part of this series, please visit Child Identity Theft  (Part I).

Child Identity theft is the fastest growing sector of the identity theft “industry,” and the numbers are staggering. Although it’s difficult to estimate exactly how many children lose their identities since the crime can go undetected for years, the FTC states that 5% of identity theft cases target children, which translates into 500,000 kidnapped child identities per year, and growing. The Carnegie Mellon CyLab Report states that in 54% of the cases, the child was under the age of 14.

The identity thief is not always a stranger. In many cases, it’s a relative with bad credit who takes advantage of a child’s pristine credit. Conveniently, these family members generally have access to the information necessary to maximize the fraud with little attention. This seems absurd, but imagine a parent who is strapped for cash, has a bad credit score and needs to buy groceries. In this case, short-term thinking blinds the relative or friend to long-term consequences. In other instances, the child’s future is not taken into consideration at all.

Frankly, it doesn’t take much to get the crime underway; all a criminal needs is the child’s name and Social Security number. These pieces of personal information are exposed in a variety of ways:

  • When registering for daycare, schools and recreational sports
  • On medical, dental and hospital records
  • When joining organizations like the Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, etc.
  • When the above information is permanently stored and accessed by volunteers or employees
  • When one of the above organizations is breached by a hacker or malicious software
  • When an adult befriends your child on a social networking site (MySpace, Facebook) and eventually socially engineers private information out of them

The Three Basic Types of Child Identity Theft

  1. Financial identity theft occurs when the name and Social Security number is used to establish new lines of credit.
  2. Criminal identity theft happens when the criminal uses the child’s identity to obtain a driver’s license or substitutes the child’s identity if caught in a criminal act.
  3. Identity cloning entails using a child’s identity (via information collection or a black market ‘purchase’ of personal information) for medical, financial, criminal and governmental purposes. The most common form of cloned identity theft is committed on behalf of undocumented workers looking for an identity that will keep them working in this country.

For parents, cleaning up the disaster of identity theft for their children is costly and incredibly time consuming. Getting a new Social Security number is almost impossible, and rarely the best option.

Taking steps right now to protect your child from this horrible crime is one of the greatest investments you will ever make in their financial and emotional future.

Protecting Your Children

Acting now on behalf of your child will protect them from consequences common to child victims:

  • Starting adulthood with a credit rating low enough to scare away the hungriest of loan sharks
  • Being denied a first loan, credit card or apartment rental because of a crime committed 10-15 years earlier (the passage of time makes this crime very hard to clear up)
  • Being denied access to college or a new job
  • Having a warrant out for her arrest for crimes that she didn’t commit

In the same way that you can’t protect your children from every bruise and scrape, you can’t entirely remove the risk of identity theft. You can, however, prevent or soften the fall if it does happen. Take these steps first:

  1. Watch for mail in your child’s name. This is a potential sign that credit has been established using their identity. The most common types of mail that signal identity theft are financial (pre-approved credit cards, etc.).
  2. Consider ordering a free credit report for your child. If you suspect foul play, write to the three credit reporting bureaus (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion) to see if your child has a credit profile (no profile, no chance that it is being used illegally). If they do have an active credit profile, you will need to resolve this with the specific credit bureau. Please note that requesting your child’s credit report repeatedly can actually establish a credit profile in their name. For a more convenient option, use an identity monitoring service for you and your family that alerts you when credit is established in any of your names.
  3. Stop giving out your child’s personal information. Until you are confident that it is absolutely necessary to receive the services desired, withhold their personal information. More than 80% of organizations that ask for your child’s Social Security number don’t actually need it to establish services. If you must give it, ask them how they will use it, how long they will keep it and how it will be protected while they have it.
  4. Protect your child’s identity documents. Birth certificates, passports, bank account information, wills and trusts involving children should all be locked securely in a fire-safe or bank’s safety deposit box. Physical document theft is one of the most prevalent ways kid’s identities are stolen.
  5. If you find evidence of fraudulent activity, contact the police, the source of the fraud and all three credit bureaus. Filing a police report helps to establish your child’s innocence in an official way.Have the credit bureaus FREEZE your child’s credit for maximum protection. Keep detailed records of all correspondence between yourself, the police, the merchant and the credit bureaus. It will come in handy should you ever find yourself in court, as I did.
  6. Educate your children on the importance of protecting their personal information. Teach them about the value of their personal information: their name, address, phone numbers, email address, Social Security Number and any passwords and PIN numbers. Reinforce that they own their private information and that it should not be shared with friends, over the internet or with anyone whom they don’t know or trust.Education is absolutely the best financial gift you will ever give to them.

In the case of child identity theft, an ounce of prevention is worth a lifetime of financial security. Don’t let the center of your universe become just another statistic. Because you love and protect your children as much as I do, start this process immediately.

John Sileo lost almost a half-million dollars, his business and his reputation to identity theft. Since then, he’s become America’s leading keynote speaker on identity theft, social media exposure and weapons of manipulation. His clients include the Department of Defense, Pfizer and Homeland Security. To learn more, visit ThinkLikeASpy.com.