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Protect Your Family from Identity Theft

Protecting Your Kids from Identity Theft

Kids are more likely than adults to have their identity stolen; credit cards opened in their names often go undetected since minors don't apply for credit. And the risk increases as they head back to school armed with registration forms and high-tech gadgets chock-full of personal information. Talk to your kids about these rules:

  • Don't leave smartphones in lockers or in unattended backpacks.
  • Always password-protect smartphones and avoid saving passwords that enable automatic e-mail log-in.
  • Track personal information shared on social networks. Disclosing seemingly innocent facts like the name of a high school or a pet on Facebook could give access to accounts, warns Levin, since they're typical website security questions.
  • Skip quizzes. Some "Do You Really Know Your Friend?" tests are created to get teens to divulge their place of birth, mother's maiden name or other details that can be used to change a bank password, says Levin.
  • Download only well-known Android and iPhone applications from well-known developers, like Facebook. If you're unsure, research the app—it should be at least six months old with positive reviews, says Siciliano.

Tip for Parents: provides free ChildScans that check whether a minor's personal information has been stolen.

Originally published in the August 2012 issue of Family Circle magazine.

This piece was accurate at publication time, but all prices, offerings and styles are subject to change.