How to Protect Yourself Against Identity Theft: A Guide for Teens
As a teenager in today’s digital world, you’re probably familiar with the internet and social media, but do you know how to protect yourself against identity theft? Identity theft is when someone steals your personal information and uses it to pretend to be you, often to commit fraud or other crimes. Even as a teen, you need to protect your identity, as thieves can target you too. In this guide, we’ll share easy-to-follow tips to help you keep your personal information safe.
- Be smart about sharing personal information
It’s important to understand that sharing your personal details, like your full name, address, date of birth, or Social Security number, can put you at risk. Only share this information with people you trust and organizations you know are legitimate.
For example, if someone you don’t know sends you a friend request on social media and starts asking for your personal details, it’s best not to share that information.
- Create strong and unique passwords
Using strong, unique passwords for all your online accounts is essential. Aim for passwords that are at least 12 characters long and combine upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and special symbols. Don’t share your passwords with friends, and avoid using easily guessed information like your name or pet’s name.
Imagine you’re creating a new password for your email account. Instead of using your dog’s name, try combining your favorite color, a random number, and a special symbol to create a secure password.
- Think twice before sharing on social media
Be cautious about what you share on social media. Adjust your privacy settings to control who can see your posts and personal information. Avoid sharing sensitive information like your phone number, home address, or school name.
If you want to share a picture of your new school ID card, consider cropping out your full name, school name, and other identifying information before posting it.
- Use secure Wi-Fi networks
When using Wi-Fi, be aware of the risks associated with public networks. Stick to secure, password-protected networks and avoid accessing sensitive information or making online purchases on public Wi-Fi.
For instance, if you’re at the library and want to buy a new game on your tablet, it’s better to wait until you’re connected to a secure home network before making the purchase.
- Keep your devices safe
Protect your devices by enabling password protection, using antivirus software, and installing updates promptly. Learn to recognize phishing emails and text messages, and never click on suspicious links or download attachments from unknown sources.
Let’s say you get an email that looks like it’s from your favorite online store, asking you to click a link and update your account information. If the email address seems odd or the message feels suspicious, delete the email and let your parents know.
- Talk to your parents about your credit
It’s a good idea to have your parents regularly check your credit report for any signs of fraudulent activity. They can also consider placing a credit freeze on your credit file, which stops new accounts from being opened without their permission.
For example, if your mom notices an unfamiliar credit inquiry on your credit report, she can immediately contact the credit bureau to investigate and take necessary action to protect your identity.
By following these tips and staying vigilant, you can protect yourself from identity theft and enjoy the digital world with confidence. Remember, it’s essential to be proactive about your online safety, and don’t hesitate to ask your parents or a trusted adult for guidance if you’re ever unsure about a situation.
If you want to learn more about cybersecurity, you can send us an email or talk to your parents about it. Just remember, it’s important to be safe online and always be careful about what you share or who you talk to.