We welcome you back to Part 4 of our series, “Protecting Teenagers from Identity Theft”. Over the past few weeks, you have learned why teens are attractive for criminals that have a desire to illegally obtain the identity of others. You have learned why this age group is most susceptible to ID thieves, and you have even learned about identity theft as it relates to activities that take place on social media platforms, such as Facebook. This week, as we continue on this very important series, we will be reviewing how to keep your teenager safe from identity thieves while participating in internet chat rooms.

Chat Rooms Gain Immense Popularity
Since the induction of the internet, chat rooms have become especially popular among teenagers. This is because this is a fantastic way of connecting to other teenagers throughout the country, and even other locations around the world. Unfortunately, while many benefits abound when it comes to online chat rooms for teens, these virtual locations are also considered to be potentially dangerous. First and foremost, you must inform your teenager that, while the individuals that they encounter in these rooms may be considered “friends” they are, in fact, strangers. In fact, most do not share information on who they really are and most are not honest. As a result of this fact, kids should ensure that they never share any personal information about themselves or their family that could, potentially, be used to commit fraud and other types of similar crimes.

Serious Risks
The internet has a high level of anonymity. This makes it a vicious place for teens – especially those that are unsupervised. Not only are there individuals in online chat rooms that will use any information that they may obtain to steal a person’s identity, there are people that will obtain personal identifiable information in order to come in physical contact with a teen. This, of course, could lead to devastating results such as kidnapping, sexual battery, physical violence, and even murder. Less devastating effects include bullying and hate speech. In order for your teen to be safe, you should alert them to all potential risks that may occur on the internet.

Chat Room Safety
In order to prevent your child from becoming a victim of identity theft in a chat room, the following steps should be taken:

  1.  First, make sure that the computer that the teen uses to access the chat room is kept in a non-private location where you may view what is going on in the room.
  2. You should ensure that you set boundaries on the types of chat rooms that may be visited and the types of information shared in that chat room.
  3. If your teen receives unusual or disturbing messages, they should be instructed to come straight to you and report it.
  4. Time limits should be set for internet usage and fully enforced.
  5. Be certain that your teen knows to never open attachments in chat rooms.
  6. You should ensure that your child is instructed to never meet anyone from a chat room in person.
  7. All PCs in the home should have the latest security software installed.
  8. You should save all logs of chat sessions.

Thank you for reading this installment. We encourage you to come back next week to learn more about how to protect your teenager from identity theft. If you would like more information on this subject, visit our blog by clicking HERE.