New Year’s Resolution: Protect Your Family’s Digital Footprint

Young Children On Devices

Fostering a Familial Digital Resilience

Our constant internet usage empowers cybercriminals to formulate countless methods for hijacking our personal information and then use it to commit identity theft and fraud. And, although different generations within a household may have different priorities online, all generations within the family are vulnerable.

The start of a New Year is a great time to emphasize the importance of safe online behavior for all those you care for and care about. Let’s review some safe practices that provide increased protection for keeping personal information secure.

Monitor & Influence Your Children’s Online Activity

How much time do your children spend scrolling and posting to social media, communicating using messaging apps, or playing the latest connected video game?

The digital footprint of children born in the 21st century is enormous, with an average of 1,300 photos and videos of a child shared by the time they’re 13 years old. By the age of 18 that skyrockets to 70,000 posts.

However, sharing on social media is not the only digital impression a child makes. Parents need to make their children aware of the risks behind smart toys, virtual assistants, and public Wi-Fi.

It continues to be critical for parents to remind their children not to share their personal information with people they do not know — whether it is a stranger in the street or someone they have met online. As technology continues to innovate, children and parents need to be more aware of what they share and consider the consequences. The last thing your family needs is your child’s personal information leaked onto the dark web, where identity thieves can use it to severely weaken  their future financial health.

Identity theft is not just an adult problem—kids are becoming victims at an alarming rate. According to Javelin’s 2018 Child Identity Fraud Study, more than one million children were victims of identity fraud in 2017. That same year, 39 percent of minors became victims of fraud, versus 19 percent of adults.

Three Tips to Protect Children Online

The first key to protection is knowledge. Here’s how to better understand what online activities your children are engaging in:

  • Place computers in high traffic areas and frequently review your children’s browser history to ensure they are visiting appropriate websites
  • Take the time to play the online games your kids are interested in, so you’re aware of the environment and interactions
  • Download parental control applications that allow you to approve or block apps your children want to download and manage in-app purchases

Parents Need Protection Too

Social media is a common online activity for people of all ages, but adults also use the internet for different purposes than their children. Whether working from home or online shopping, banking, and paying bills electronically, there are many more opportunities for their Personally Identifiable Information (PII) to become compromised.

In the U.S., 33 percent of adults have experienced identity theft, which is more than twice the global average.

Understanding your internet presence and where your personal data might live within the “cloud” or the broader web is also important. Revisit the information you may be sharing on online platforms and limit the opportunity of that information getting into the wrong hands.

Three Tips for Online Safety for Adults

  • Install a mobile threat defense solution on your phone that will alert you of rogue applications, spyware, and unsafe wireless connections
  • Never use public Wi-Fi when online banking or shopping
  • Refrain from having family members use your work-issued devices for personal reasons

Helping Grandparents and the Elderly

For years, seniors have been duped into sending checks and gift cards after receiving a tragic phone call from imposter grandchildren and friends. What makes us believe they are safe online? From email phishing scams asking them to update their Medicare account information to clicking on ads embedded with malware, the elderly population is a favorite target for cybercriminals.

In 2018, the Justice Department announced its largest-ever sweep of elder fraud cases, involving 250 defendants worldwide who victimized more than 1 million seniors out of more than $500 million.

Elderly are often less tech savvy than those of younger generations, and therefore more susceptible to scams online. It is up to the whole family to safeguard and educate them on safely surfing the web.

Three Tips to Protect the Elderly Online

  • Help the elderly members of your household with their online Medicare/Medicaid/Social Security and other virtual accounts
  • Educate seniors on how to detect a scam such as grammar and spelling errors on emails and ads that request personal information
  • Invest in antivirus and cybersecurity protection on all devices to protect against mobile and online threats

Safeguarding the Entire Family

Danger lurks where we least expect it, and cybercriminals are ready to take any opportunity to steal our information online. There’s no better time than a New Year to practice increased online safety.

  1. Create complex passwords. Use a password manager to keep track of your passwords and make sure your family’s passwords are difficult to crack
  2. Use a VPN software to encrypt data. Protect everyone’s devices against cyber vulnerabilities
  3. Make sure your Wi-Fi is password protected. Be confident that your family can surf the web on a secure network
  4. Keep up with the latest data breaches and scams. Ensure your family’s information is not in the hands of cybercriminals

    Continue following Fighting Identity Crimes to get the latest breach and scam updates, ID protection news & tips from our industry experts!

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Identity Protection: The Benefits of a Long-Term Mindset

Breached Personal Information: The Shared Responsibility Between Consumers & Organizations

Our connected world has made us all more vulnerable to fraud and identity theft. With major security incidents from Equifax and Facebook compromising millions of consumers’ personally identifiable information (PII) – and now most recently Google+ – limited identity protection services for breach victims are staple items in organizations, big and small.

While reactive measures can help address and resolve identity crime after it occurs, the best way to address fraud and identity theft is by taking a proactive approach. It’s really a two-fold awareness strategy relying on both technology and human vigilance.  

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Why Are Companies Changing Their Privacy Policies?

Not Your Average Email Communication 

It’s not uncommon to receive emails from a company, especially if you are a frequent customer or client. But when multiple businesses inform you of privacy policy changes at the same time, it can often mean something bigger is happening behind-the-scenes. 

The European Union (EU) made recent changes to its data privacy regulations (the General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR) that went into effect on May 25, 2018. These regulations mandate that companies clearly communicate how and why they are collecting consumer data. 

While these regulations directly impact European businesses and consumers, they are still relevant to those of us in the U.S. that utilize international services such as social media, smartphone apps and more. Let’s walk through some common questions about these new data regulations, and what they mean for Americans. 

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