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It’s important for kids to gain financial experience and providing them with opportunities to begin managing their own finances is a great start. Unfortunately, identity theft and fraud aren’t exclusive to adults. In today’s digital world, children and adolescents are also susceptible to these threats. According to a 2012 survey by the Identity Theft Assistance Center and the Javelin Strategy & Research group, 1 in 40 families with children under 18 had at least one child whose personal information was compromised.
Because children and adolescents may not know how to identity online scams and parents may not think to check their child’s credit score, thieves can get away with opening false accounts or cards in children’s names.
There are some simple preventative measures parents can take to help keep their child safe from financial fraud.
Talk with your child about shopping online safely. This article reports that 86% of teen boys and 76% of teen girls shop online, with a strong majority purchasing from Amazon. Given the increase in the amount of purchases made online by kids, it is important to teach them the importance of account protection and password security. Check out our recent blog of tips for preventing cybertheft.
Talk with your child to decide an appropriate spending limit and work with the bank to set it up. For example, rather than accept the bank’s default per day limit on debit card transaction amounts, perhaps you’d prefer to start with a smaller limit.
Insist your child sign up for online banking and encourage them to regularly review their account activity. Not only does this keep the account balance fresh in their mind to discourage overspending, but also allows you to set up text message or e-mail alerts when certain account activities occur. When an alert is received, you can quickly investigate whether this was initiated by the child or is an indication of fraud.
Ask your bank about additional available account security tools. State Savings Bank accounts work with the free app, ShazamBolt$ which allows you to instantly pause a debit card if the card is lost or stolen and also notifies you of suspicious transactions or suspected fraud.
Check your child’s credit score. There may be fraudulent activity associated with your child’s credit score even if they don’t have a credit card or any loans, so it is beneficial to routinely check his or her credit score. Children are an appealing target for identity thieves because they may be able to take out loans or credit-related products using a child’s social security number and because children don’t have any credit blemishes, fraudulent activity can easily go undetected for long stretches of time.
Discuss and review apps together. Increasingly, kids are using smartphone apps to split costs between friends and make entertainment purchases. Make sure to go over the apps on their phone and identify which ones are safe to use for in-app purchases.
State Savings Bank is and will always be a relationship-based financial institution that serves its customers with safety. We love when families bank with us and we’re happy to offer advice or answer any questions you may have about best practices for financial security.