Web Identity Tips.

Here are some simple tips to make sure you’re not posting TMI for identity thieves:


Limit the amount of personal information you post on your bog or profile. While you’re under 18, don’t post your full first and last name on your blog or social networking profile – make up a fun nickname or pseudonym to use instead. Never post your social security number, driver’s license number (if you have one!), cell phone number or home address.


Be careful what you blog. If your blog is public, don’t post stuff like my whole family is going on vacation for two weeks – a clever criminal can try to figure out where you live and take advantage of your family being gone, raid your mailbox and find all sorts of personal information.


Watch out for email scams or “phishing.” If you still check your old fashioned web email account, be very careful of spammers who send emails asking you for money or any other personal information. Don’t click on any email attachments unless you know who sent them. Just hit delete. 


Be wary of quizzes or other online surveys that ask you to enter lots of personal information.


Make sure any site you have to register to join is secure and legit. Be weary of contest sites advertised through pop-ups or associated with any brand or company you are not familiar with. If you’re shopping online, most likely you have to use your parent’s credit card, so make sure they check out the site before you enter in their information.

Identity Theft: Another Reason You Shouldn’t Share TMI Online by Anastasia Goodstein


Okay: A) Read Anastasia’s article & reasonings in the above mentioned link.  She is clearly brilliant.  B) If you are working with kids/tweens/teens… and you need to help intro the idea of identity & online protection, this is what I’ve kinda come up with…


The Game…. GUESS WHO?

What kids have trouble understanding is that slight information, the kind that doesn’t seem obvious, is the kind to keep in mind. 


There are three levels of identity info (at least in my mind):

1. Heavy hitters… Obvious stuff: First name, last name, email, home address, phone number


But what needs to be mentioned too are: 

2. Semi-obvious: School, parents names, team name (and don’t forget they tend to add their jersey numbers as well), IM NAMES(!), blogs, various sites & online presence, and personal account information (you have no idea how many kids leave their Club Penguin account info in my comments section for one of my old CP posts)


3.  Unique characteristics, parents jobs, school mascott, event locations (“I’m going to Disney World this weekend with my six brothers. We all have red hair and my Dad is in a wheelchair”), etc.


Some pieces of information shared do indeed seem innocent enough.  But it’s always good to prep kids on the full side of indentity & online life.  Tater Tot McGee joins a site, makes psuedo-friends online, and says things like “Our mascott is a badger.  It’s on my warmest sweatshirt”, the next week they mention “I’m going to a Bears football game with my dad this weekend!”, and “I just died my hair pink for the holidays!” < That can make Tater Tot McGee quite identifiable.


Okay, granted I’m being extreme and a safety-zealot about the info collection… but the point is, if you want to get it across to kids that safety isn’t a joke sometimes you have to be straight up serious with them.  Give ’em respect by giving them the facts and the fine details. 


Play “Guess Who?” with the tater tots.  Help make the identification process clearer in a game-like format, then explain to them about identity… connect the dots between the two.


Anyway, that’s just a tip.  I’ve used it a handful of times now and it works beautifully.  Opens kids eyes a bit, helps them realize how simple it is to identify someone.

  1. November 5, 2007 at 11:04 pm

    My school had an internet safety seminar. I learned alot about a few simple sentances can turn into personal information. My friend’s website also had a comment that someone wrote about that.

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