The personal information of more and more people is being circulated on the dark web. That includes children, something that might come as an unwelcome surprise to many parents.
Last year saw a massive spike in ransomware-related cyberattacks. That means huge tranches of sensitive data were stolen from all sorts of places — like school districts and health care providers — and then resold online.
“We don’t wrap our brains around that this is actually a thing. Especially parents. ‘Really? That’s one more thing I have to worry about?’” said Eva Velasquez, president and CEO of the Identity Theft Resource Center. The nonprofit counsels victims of identity crime.
Velasquez said it can be hard for some parents to believe that their children are at risk, especially if they’ve managed to keep their kids off social media.
“And I’m sorry to burst your bubble here, but that is really giving you a false sense of security. Your children do have identity credentials. You are claiming them on your taxes. They have a Social Security number.”
She said parents should freeze their kids’ credit, even though they’re too young to have a credit history to prevent anybody else from, say, opening a credit card using that child’s credentials.
That’s what retired dentist Anu Minocha of the San Francisco Bay Area has done for her 19-year-old at the University of California, Los Angeles, and her twin 17-year-olds in high school.
It wasn’t easy. The big three credit reporting agencies — Experian, Equifax and TransUnion — all require copies of key documents and more. But Minocha said she wanted to set a good example.
“What do you do? I mean, that’s the world we live in, right? So you can’t hide under a blanket. I think you just have to teach kids how to manage that world,” Minocha said.
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