Keeping Money Safe: Teaching Teens About Identity Theft and Banking Security
August 13, 2015 : H&R Block Dollars & Sense
By Lisa Carey, contributor
You may wonder why you need to teach teens about identity theft and bank security. One reason is the need to know these potential crimes as part of overall responsible money management.
Another reason is teens and college students are among the most likely to be victims of identity theft; after all, they have a clean credit record. Lastly, it can happen to you — it did my adult son.
Just imagine the excitement my son and I experienced as we were heading to the jewelry store to pick out an engagement ring for his soon-to-be fiancé. After much thought and negotiation, we managed to find the perfect ring at the perfect price. My adult son had no prior credit as he paid cash for everything, so this was his first experience with a credit card application. The application came back denied. Wondering why, I asked for a copy of the report and we find that he had several unpaid credit cards reported; however, he had never had a credit card. “What do I do, mom?” was his next question.
Avoiding Identity Theft and Creating Bank Security
Super cyber security. Tweens, teens and even college students post a great deal of information online. I can just see someone posting an “I got my first credit card!” selfie with credit card in hand. That’s an obvious no-no to some, but what we also need to teach our teens about identity theft is that it’s often created by bits and pieces of a person. Posting information like your complete date of birth and address can be just enough to give an identity thief the tools they need to create a new you.
Create solid passwords and change them on occasion. Let’s not forget that sharing usernames and passwords can also provide someone with all the information they need to create a credit record. Sadly, teens are most frequently the victims of identity theft by another family member.
Chip that card and shred documents. Many parents are helping their teens with their banking habits. If possible, request a debit/credit card that is chipped and can help eliminate some of the more sneaky ways of stealing your card information.
Another way to keep your card safe is to not store the information with online stores. Also, shred banking statements, credit card offers and other documents after they’ve been reviewed. These steps not only help with preventing identity theft, but they also create a more secure banking experience.
Check their credit report yearly. As an adult, you check yours; you should check theirs, too. That’s one way of finding out if there is a problem long before your teen grows up and really needs or wants to obtain credit.
Turn off those texts! Do you have a text-obsessed teen? Teens will respond to just about any phone call or text even if they don’t know the person. Teach your teens about spam text messages and phone calls that are “phishing” for information.
Make sure they know to avoid responding to messages they don’t know as well as calling back unknown numbers that appear on caller ID that didn’t leave a message. Teens need to know they never need to give that information out via text.
I fell down on the job on this one. In all my research about how to be a good parent I never even once thought of my child being a victim of identity theft. But as parents, we do live and learn, and now I know from experience what to tell my younger children about identity theft and bank security before their money, credit or identity is compromised.
Lisa Carey, owner of Money Saving Parent, worked with children of all ages in the field of education for more than 15 years, preparing her for her four children aging from elementary school to married. She also shares activities that make learning fun for everyone on her blog AtoZ Learning Tree. As a featured parenting contributor for Yahoo and a family and parenting columnist, she is a nationally recognized parenting expert. When she’s not busy writing, she can be found with her family; traveling, reading a good book and showing them how to save for tomorrow and live for today.