12 Quick Privacy Tips for Parents

 In Identity Theft, Privacy Commissioner

As we close off Privacy Awareness Week 2012, it’s important to take away some information that people can use in their daily lives to protect their personal information, to prevent identity theft and to protect the integrity of their credit file from credit fraud. If you are a parent who wants to get involved in what your child is doing online, or even if you feel overwhelmed by the online options open to young people today – this information could save you from the dangers that occur through internet use and allow both and your child to get on the same page about online safety.

By Graham Doessel, Founder and CEO of MyCRA Credit Rating Repairs and www.fixmybadcredit.com.au.

The Office of the Privacy Commissioner, Canada has put together some information for parents on 12 Quick Privacy Tips which show how to navigate a digital environment and how parents can lead their children in better Privacy practices.

We have included this information sheet for you in its entirety:

12 Quick Privacy Tips for Parents

It can be tough raising kids in a digital environment. Many of them use the Internet effortlessly, and easily adapt to new devices that connect to it. For many of us, these tools have become a routine part of our children’s lives, as they use them to chat, surf, post, play and learn. The Internet has become one of the most powerful tools they have to connect with friends and make new ones.

Many kids, however, don’t fully understand the impact that some online activities may have on their privacy. Below are 12 tips to help you limit the risks to your children’s personal information, while allowing them to make the most of their time online.

•1. Talk to your kids.
It’s important to know the Internet spaces your kids frequent and the devices they use to go online, to help you understand the nature of personal information they may be sharing. Technology changes rapidly and many children are ahead of adults in adapting to new options. Talk with them often about their online activities to keep up with what they are doing and interested in.

•2. Try it out.
It’s not enough to know what online spaces and devices your kids are using. To understand the nature of the personal information they are sharing, you should know how they are using and experiencing them. So, dive in. Try out the family web cam if you have one, play the online games they love, create a profile on the social networking sites they frequent, and download some music.

•3. Keep up with the technology.
Many mobile devices, like smart phones, tablets and gaming consoles, can connect to the web and have video cameras. The lines between devices are blurring, and it is important to know what kind of device your child has, so that you know whether they are merely playing a game, or if they are using the Internet and sharing personal information.

•4. Make restricting privacy settings a habit.
Most social networking sites have extensive privacy options that children should learn to use. For each site where your kids are posting information about themselves, their family and their friends, sit down with them and review that site’s privacy policy. Then modify the privacy settings of their account, and have them consider how the information they are posting could be used – or misused – by others.

•5. Make password protection a priority.
Children need to understand that their online information will be better protected if they use passwords. They should use different passwords for different sites and they should change them regularly. Encourage them to ensure their passwords are strong (eight characters or more and a variety of letters and/or numbers), to change them regularly, and to never share them with anyone.

•6. Emphasize the importance of protecting mobile devices.
The first thing anyone should do with a new mobile device is activate the password protection. Talk to your kids about this, and the importance of protecting the device itself – not just because it may be expensive, but because it may contain their personal information. A device that gets into the wrong hands could result in embarrassing or even malicious videos or pictures being posted online by someone else in your child’s name.

•7. Remind your kids that what they post on the Internet is not always private.
Your kids should understand that once they post content online, they no longer have control over it. It can be forwarded, copied and pasted, manipulated, printed out or saved – it can remain online, in some form, potentially forever. They should know that even password-protected pages are not totally secure, and that deleting information doesn’t mean that it’s gone forever.

•8. Teach your kids to think before they click.
It can take only seconds to snap a photo and post it to the Internet, or to post a comment. But it can be nearly impossible to permanently delete that comment or photo once it’s posted, as it can then be downloaded or archived by others. This is why it’s so important for kids to think twice about every piece of personal information before they post it to the Internet. They should only post things that they would be comfortable with the whole world seeing.

•9. Stress the importance of knowing your real friends.
Kids need to know that, online, they can’t be 100% sure of who they’re talking to, so they should never accept friend requests from people they don’t know in real life. Online friends can end up accessing online photo albums, reading personal comments, copying and pasting information, knowing what you’re doing and where you are. Remind your kids that a “friend” of a “friend” of a real-life friend is really just a stranger.

•10. Teach your kids that their personal information is valuable.
Kids need to know that many people and companies want their personal information to sell or market things to them in the future. New and exciting technologies are emerging daily, but often personal information is the cost of admission. Review the personal information they often need to surrender in order to play online games, fill out an online survey or quiz, join virtual worlds or even just shop online. Discuss potential ways to limit that information, for example, by completing only required fields, using pseudonyms, and using incomplete information.

•11. Let your kids know that you are there if they make a privacy mistake.
Stay calm if your child makes a mistake, like posting something they shouldn’t have. Help them remove the post, where possible, and talk with them about how they can avoid a similar mistake in the future. If you “freak out” or deny access to them, they may not come to you for help when they really need it in future.

•12. Set a good example.
Remember, those cute potty training or bathing photos of your own child that you are tempted to post can also be copied and shared, and remain online forever! Just as you would respect your friends when posting photos or other items that contain their personal information, respect your kids’ personal information too. Set a good example when you’re online so your kids have a good role model to look to if they’re wondering what kind of information is OK to post.

Credit fraud: What can happen to your child if their personal information is extracted by fraudsters

Superintendant Brian Hay from the Queensland Fraud Squad told Channel 7’s Sunrise Program in October last year, that criminals were targeting the personal information of our young Facebook users.

Supt Hay said criminals had been known to be storing the personal information of children around the world in databases to be used when they turn 18 and are able to take out credit.

“We know that the crooks have been data warehousing identity information, we know that they’ve been building search engines to profile and build identities,” he told Sunrise.

“We need to tell our children if you surrender your soul, if you surrender your identity to the internet it could come back to bite you in a very savage way years down the track,” he says.

Most identity theft victims have no idea they have given away personal information to fraudsters until it is too late. If identity fraud sees accounts in the victim’s name going undetected and unpaid past 60 days, the credit file holder can have their good name destroyed for 5-7 years due to defaults.

It need not be major fraud to be a massive blow to the identity theft victim. Unpaid accounts for as little as $100 can have the same negative impact on someone’s ability to obtain credit as a missed mortgage payment. So any misuse of someone’s credit file can be extremely significant.

For more education for parents about the risks of cyber-crime and tips for staying safe, the Government has put together the CyberSmart website, which has special sections for parents and children. You may also like to visit the government’s Stay Smart Online website, which provides information for Australian internet users on the simple steps they can take to protect their personal and financial information online. It also has an Alert system which you can subscribe to, which notifies you of the latest risks to your personal information or computer.

Don’t get caught with credit rating defaults that should not be there. Don’t let fraudsters take over your good name. Educate yourself on what a valuable commodity your personal information is, and how you can protect what is your ticket to financial freedom in this modern world – your credit file – from fraud.

Image above: Keerati/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

MyCRA Credit Rating Repairs is proud to be a Partner for Privacy Awareness Week 2012.

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