Identity theft isn’t something that can just happen to adults, it can happen to teenagers as well. At this point in your life it’s really important to become aware of what personal information is and the ways in which you can protect it. People who steal others identities do so for their own personal gain. To avoid identity theft, it’s really important to keep this information to yourself while on the internet. This information includes your social security number, banking information, student identification number, etc. Remember that this information should only be given out when it’s absolutely necessary and you clearly understand the purpose in which you are providing it. Here’s a list of ways to protect your identity online, adapted from Web MD’s “Teen Internet Safety Tips.”
- Keep Your Online Identity Secret
In addition to your personal identification information, you should never provide your address or neighborhood to anybody online. Even if you think that you know them, it’s not a good idea to post that information for hackers to be able to find later down the road. If you wouldn’t tell a stranger in real life where you live, you shouldn’t post it online. This includes things you may not even think of, like posting somewhere online that you’re home alone for the day or anything that might give hackers or predators a reason to try and figure out your location.
- Keep Your Usernames and Passwords to Yourself
The only people that you should ever give your usernames and passwords to are your parents if they ask for them for safety reasons. Giving out that information to anyone else allows others to log in pretending to be you, which could mean that if they post or say something inappropriate it could be you that gets in trouble for it whether it be with school, your parents, or even the law. It may seem funny to some people at first, but you should never submit yourself to online bullying or harassment in any way, shape or form. In addition to that, unless you change your log in information, once someone has that information they can use it forever, including friends that you no longer keep in touch with.
- Think Before You Post
In social media, it seems like privacy is just a myth. Just because there is often an option to delete something that has already been posted, most material is still out there on the internet long after it’s been “deleted,” if not forever. So, just think before you post! Ask yourself if you would be comfortable with a parent or family member, a prospective employer, a teacher, coach or college recruiter seeing that material and if you’re not sure if what you’re posting is appropriate, it’s smart to stay on the side of caution and find something different to post. Posts regarding sexual material can draw attention from both law enforcement and perpetrators, so it’s best to protect yourself and keep that material off of the internet.
- Be Cautious About Meeting Online Friends in Person
Although teens these days do make some great friends online based on common interests and friends, the FBI does give out a broad warning to never meet anyone in person that you meet online. If nobody else knows this online friend, nobody has ever seen them in person, or they haven’t been trusted by others, chances are the online friend isn’t who they say they are and meeting them is an unsafe and often times very dangerous situation. If you do decide to meet someone in person whom you’ve met online, please bring your parent or guardian with you to assure your own safety. Also, meet in a public place where there are lots of people around. Lastly, be sure to just use your best judgment and remember, if a situation seems a bit off, chances are it probably is.
Bruce, D. F., PhD. (n.d.). Teen Internet Safety tips. Retrieved April 07, 2016, from http://teens.webmd.com/features/teen-internet-safety-tips
Social Media: Issues and Tips for Teens. (2015). Short Social Media Handout.