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ID theft

All about how it happens and how you can keep it from happening to you.

July 2011 - Posts

  • Should small children be allowed to be so tech-savvy?

    Go to any restaurant during any given weekend, and you'll see the same thing over and over again – parents handing over their smartphones to their kids to play with. 


    Children as young as 1 have been documented playing with both smartphones and tablets, and the current parenting trend is that doing so can help them start learning sooner.


    While this is up for debate, it is clear that children learn how to interact with the devices quickly. App makers are banking on this, and are marketing to parents to help their children get a head start on learning. If you search iTunes, you'll find more than 800 apps specifically marketed to children under the age of 3. Toys R Us sells the iPad. A town in Maine just spent $200,000 on iPads for the entire incoming kindergarten class.


    But does technology make kids smarter?


    While experts do agree that it's okay for toddlers to spend some time playing educational games on tablets for short amounts of time, they recommend that children under the age of 2 don't get any screen time. Experts have conducted studies on young children that showed that although they could manipulate letters around on a tablet in the correct manner, when presented with flash cards bearing the same letters or colors, the children didn't understand and couldn't identify the items.


    But can we keep our kids away from technology – and is it fair to expect them to not want to explore it?


    Children learn much of their behavior from the adults around them. If the adults in their lives are constantly on smartphones or tablets, children will also want to use them. Which means they can abuse them as well. There's a documented case where a 3-year-old child spent hundreds on a car on an Internet auction site, using his mom's computer. Who knows what information a child could innocently give away?


    Make sure your devices are locked with a password, so that your child cannot use them without permission. Your child won't be as careful as you are to protect your sensitive information from identity thieves. It's all up to you.

    Posted Jul 26 2011, 11:51 AM by IdentityTheft with no comments
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  • How do I know which identity theft insurance is right for me?

    These days, you don't just have to simply worry about someone breaking into your home and stealing your money or belongings. These days, you have to worry about so much more. When thieves break into your home now, they don't just look for valuable things – they look for valuable information.


    Virtually unheard of just a few short years ago, identity theft has become common enough that insurance companies, credit card companies and mortgage companies have begun offering coverage to protect consumers. 


    But how do you know who offers the best coverage for you?


    First of all, you should compare deductibles. If the deductible is too high, the coverage may not be worth it, since the average identity theft victim spends about $800 in out of pocket expenses.  Second, determine how the policy handles attorney's fees. If you are sued as a result of an identity theft, you'll want to be sure the policy you choose will cover those fees.


    Check to see if the policies cover denied credit. All too often, consumers don't know they've become identity theft victims until they apply for credit and are turned down. You should know how your policy would respond to reapplying for credit in addition to removing negative items from your credit report.


    Take a look at how the policy handles lost wages. Most people spend an average of 175 hours to correct problems associated with identity theft. Chances are, you'll have to take some time off from your job to deal with this problem. 


    Last of all, analyze the premiums. If all of the coverages for each policy are identical, then it may just simply come down to purchasing the coverage that's the cheapest.

    Posted Jul 19 2011, 12:14 PM by IdentityTheft with no comments
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  • Teach your child about protecting personal information

    Your child may be getting ready to start college this fall, and you may be in the thick of it when it comes to applying for financial aid. Your child may even be applying for student loans. 


    But what happens when your child applies for a loan and finds that he's already in debt – thousands of dollars in debt?


    Unfortunately, for many teens, this is reality. Identity theft is a huge threat to young children, since their Social Security numbers are unused and the theft often goes unnoticed for many years. By the time the victim discovers the threat, much damage has been done and it can take years to clean up a credit history tainted by identity theft. And while your child is working on cleaning up the mess left behind by a thief, he will find it incredible difficult to buy a car, rent an apartment or even obtain a credit card.


    According to Quest Communications International, people between the ages of 18 and 29 are the primary targets for identity theft. Statistics show that as people age, their chances of becoming victims of identity theft diminishes. Younger children are particularly susceptible because their parents don't check their credit reports. 


    Teens are at risk because they are more careless about protecting their personal information, and they're much more likely to think their personal info is secure. They may use credit cards in unsecured situations, or give out their information over the Internet or on the telephone, without even thinking of the consequences. 


    Teens are all over social media – they use social media sites very day, as well as blog sites. They also utilize peer-to-peer sharing sites to download music and videos. This all makes their personal information vulnerable, since teens often don't hesitate to share it on these types of sites. 


    Teach your teen how to protect himself by helping him understand when it is safe to give out personal information and when it is not safe to do so. You'll be protecting your child's present – and his future.

    Posted Jul 12 2011, 10:50 AM by IdentityTheft with no comments
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  • Teach your teens to be safe when using digital devices

    Want to get the attention of your teen? You're going to have to text or e-mail her. Digital communication is a huge part of every teen's life these days.


    In the early days, if you used the term digital communication, you meant the Internet. These days, this could mean any number of things, including tablets and smart phones. If you have teens in your home, you can actually use digital communications to help keep them safe. 


    • Tell your teen to carry her phone everywhere. This is especially important when she's driving, so that if there are any car problems, she can call you or emergency services right away.


    • Program emergency numbers into your teen's phone, like the police and fire departments, as well as emergency car service.  You can also plug in the number for campus escort services, as well as the campus police, if your teen is in college.


    • On your computers at home, including your teen's, make sure you block websites that contain inappropriate content. 


    • Help your teens learn to use their computers and smart phones in a safe way. Teach them to keep their personal information, like address, phone number and other personal information, off the web, and explain how important it is to keep this information off of social media sites. 


    • If your teen has a profile on a social media site, make sure the profile is listed as private, and that the privacy settings are as high as possible.

    Posted Jul 05 2011, 11:08 AM by IdentityTheft with no comments
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