Take steps to keep you, kids safe from identity theft

Published 7:54 pm Thursday, August 14, 2008

The world seems to be full of people who just want to rip off individuals who are not paying attention, from restaurant employees who switch debit cards to identity theft.

For this reason, people may feel awkward about buying things off the Internet or even over the phone. There is just no way of knowing who the person on the other side is or what they are doing with your information.

Unfortunately, we don’t live in a time when we can just run down to the store or to our neighbor’s house with cash and pay off our debts. No. In fact, most often the places that we have to converse with about our personal finances are located in a different state.

So how are you supposed to be able to tell that your money is going where they say it is? You can’t. As bad as that sounds, there is just no way of knowing. This may keep some people on track of paying their bills on time with checks or money orders that they send directly to companies, but there are still thousands of people who can’t get away from the convenience of shopping online from their home or from calling that ad on TV to buy something they just can’t live without.

With nearly 40 percent of the population ordering things online and over the phone, this creates plenty of opportunities for criminals to ply their trade. It is too easy for people to fall for a seemingly legitimate scam that is really some 15-year-old kid on the other side of a laptop having fun with other people’s lives.

If you do enjoy buying things off of online stores or over the phone, keep a check on yourself. Never buy anything from a Web site that does not take you to a secure Web page for your purchase, and never buy anything over the phone if they ask for information such as your Social Security number. This kind of information is not needed to make a purchase and should never be given out.

Keep yourself safe from identity theft and make sure your kids understand what is happening as well. One new study has shown that predators are starting to steal kids’ identities and use them before they are old enough to. By the time your child turns 16, it is already too late for them to fix it.

Keep all documents that contain information like personal ID’s and Social Security cards out of sight, and make sure your kids understand the danger of telling strangers who they are, where they live, how old they are and anything else they may be old enough to have memorized.