Stop Oversharing: Teens & Identity Theft

College-ID-Theft-Image-LifeLock-PTA- smallLifeLock is a financial sponsor of National PTA, and has been invited to submit a blog post as part of their engagement with PTA. National PTA does not endorse any commercial entity, product, or service, and no endorsement is implied by this content.

My first job out of college was a tech position at a tiny boarding school in upstate New York. I spent most of my time in the computer lab overseeing classes of students doing online research or taking the occasional email break. This was before the over-sharing days of Facebook and Twitter, but even then I had to monitor and educate our students about the dangers of chat rooms, making sure they knew who was at the other end of their email, and not downloading files from unknown sources.

It always surprised me that so many of our students grew up with computers in their homes, and yet knew very little about using them responsibly. But then, I suppose, things haven’t changed much. Today’s teens have grown up with social media and smartphones. They know there’s a risk involved in using both. But how many of them truly understand those risks, or take appropriate steps to help avoid them?

Turns out, not as many as we’d like to think. In a 2013 survey, LifeLock found that 77% of teens between the ages of 13 and 17 overshare personal information online.* That may not be a big surprise. We know social media can lead to oversharing – but the telling part of this survey was that of those same teens, only 11% thought they were oversharing.**

Another study, by the Family Online Safety Institute, found that 43% of teens haven’t set up privacy settings on all of their online or social networking accounts, and 1 in 3 teens have shared their log-in information with someone other than their parents or guardians.

Of course, social media isn’t the only way an identity thief can get your information, and teens are just as vulnerable to conventional means of identity theft—stolen mail, data breaches, etc. So what can we do to help teens protect themselves? The most important thing: talk to them. They can’t protect themselves against what they don’t understand.

Back in September I provided some useful tips on helping protect yourself from identity theft. Those can work for teens too. Of course, teens face some unique threats, such as when we send them off to college (or to small, private boarding schools). Thankfully, the Identity Theft Resource Center has some easy steps they can take to help protect themselves. And if you’re looking for ways to address online safety, head over to You’ll find a number of useful resources and conversation starters.

Our generation is still learning about identity theft. But with a little advice from us, hopefully our teens won’t have to.

Jaramy Conners is the Corporate Communications Manager at LifeLock.

* Based on the responses of 700 US teenagers surveyed by LifeLock, June 2013.

** Ibid.



Child Identity Theft: Don’t be so Social with Social Security Numbers

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LifeLock is a financial sponsor of National PTA, and has been invited to submit a blog post as part of their engagement with PTA. National PTA does not endorse any commercial entity, product, or service, and no endorsement is implied by this content.

When my wife was pregnant, I gave my information out to everyone. My wife’s doctor. The hospital. The lab. The pharmacy. You name it, they wanted my information. And in most cases, even my Social Security number.

When my daughter was born, places started asking for her information too.

In my line of work, I think about identity theft a lot. Last month I talked about some of the ways identity thieves can use your stolen information. It’s scary to think about. And it’s even scarier when I think about what that could mean for my daughter. The thefts can take the form of loans and credit, but some also in the form of utility accounts. Identity thieves may target children because their Social Security numbers may not be frequently used. If there is no credit history, bad credit may not get in the way of the crime.

And I confess, I’ve never checked my daughter’s credit report. I’m guessing that goes for most of you too. Once a thief gets his/her hands on a child’s information, it could be used for years before anyone notices.

So what’s the big deal? It’s not like our kids are using their credit, right? Unfortunately, identity theft could affect a child’s future credit, and may cause problems when he or she applies for an apartment, a job or even college.

In my last post, I provided some easy steps to help protect you from identity theft. All of those can work for your child too. But what if something does happen? How would you even know?

There are some signs you should look for:

  • Your child receives calls from collections agencies.
  • Your child starts getting pre-approved credit card offers, or an actual credit card in the mail.
  • You receive a notice from the IRS saying that your child’s information is listed on another tax return.
  • You or your child is denied government assistance because income or benefits are already assigned to his/her Social Security number.

If any of these things does happen, or anything else that makes you suspicious, take action immediately! If your child is enrolled in an identity theft protection service, call them. LifeLock offers a product designed specifically for children, LifeLock Junior™ protection, that is an add-on to LifeLock’s existing suite of protection products.  If your child is not enrolled in an identity theft protection service, contact the three major credit bureaus and report it.

Identity theft shouldn’t be something you think about all the time, but we all need to be aware of the risks. Especially for our children. Be cautious with their information, and pay attention to any warning signs. As for checking those credit reports…I’m going to order my daughter’s today.

Did you know?

PTA members are entitled to a special rate on all LifeLock identity theft protection products. Get one month free plus a lifetime 10% discount using coupon code PTA. Call 1-800-Life-Lock or visit

Jaramy Conners is the Corporate Communications Manager at LifeLock.

Reading, Writing and…Identity Theft?

PTA Blog - Part One Back to School ID Theft Explainer (2)LifeLock is a financial sponsor of National PTA, and has been invited to submit a blog post as part of their engagement with PTA. National PTA does not endorse any commercial entity, product, or service, and no endorsement is implied by this content.

Summer’s over and we’re quickly settling into the new school year—putting our kids on the bus and trusting in someone else to keep them safe and help them succeed. And that means it’s also time to start worrying.

Did we get them everything they need? Will they get along well with their teachers? Will they make new friends? Will they pass all their exams? Will they become victims of identity theft?

Wait—identity theft? What’s that?

Good question. Identity theft is when a criminal steals someone’s personal information and uses it to assume that person’s identity. The criminal can then commit all kinds of fraud under the assumed identity—from filing tax returns to opening a bank loan to even undergoing medical treatment—before the victim ever finds out.

In an increasingly connected world, we share our personal identifying information (PII) in new and different ways. And your PII is precisely the information thieves need to assume your identity. It includes such things as your Social Security number, driver license number, and birthdate.

Think about how many times you have shared this kind of information, from your employer to your doctor’s office to your bank. Can you trust each of them to safeguard your personal data? Even with the best of intentions, it can get out. It could be as simple as a careless worker leaving an important document in plain sight of a passerby, or as we see regularly in the news, a crime ring hacking into a company’s computer system to steal the PII of thousands—even millions—of customers.

And yes, children can be victims as well. In fact, they can be prime targets, since a child’s PII isn’t regularly used, the crime may not be discovered for years—perhaps when he or she applies for a first job or apartment.

We’ll talk more about children and identity theft in our next post. In the meantime, what can you do to protect yourself and your family?

  • Safeguard your personal identifying information. If someone asks for your Social Security number—or that of your child—ask how it will be used and whether it will be shared.
  • Use a crosscut shredder to dispose of documents with your personal identifying information.
  • Create strong passwords to protect your online accounts
  • Monitor your credit card and bank accounts, such as looking for transactions that aren’t yours—and report suspicious transactions, even small ones, immediately.
  • Consider using an identity theft protection service, such as LifeLock, that will alert you to potential fraud and help you resolve issues you may encounter.

Identity theft and the ensuing fraud is more than simple credit card theft. It can cause big headaches and take months to sort out. It can also hurt your credit rating and affect your ability to borrow money or get a job. Even with all the other things on your mind this time of year—with the start of school—it’s worth taking some easy steps to protect yourself and your loved ones.

Jaramy Conners is the Corporate Communications Manager at LifeLock.