Identity theft: a risk to popular newborns

Saturday, October 9, 2010

According to a recent survey by AVG, an Internet security firm, "82 percent of children in 10 Western countries have a digital footprint before the age of 2"

A digital footprint includes any of a person's information that can be found using Internet search engines or websites. The article "Study: 82 percent of kids under 2 have an online presence" by Mark Milian, CNN, primarily focuses on Facebook.

The photos of children on Facebook are not the primary issue, but the personal information which is found
alongside the photos is where the problem lies.

Over 92 percent of U.S. children have photos on the Internet. The personal information that often gets disclosed (full name, birth date, family members, etc.) along with the photo can contribute to identity thefts.

"Obviously there's a privacy issue," said AVG spokeswoman Siobhan MacDermott, "if they're applying for credit [later on] and having that information readily available for people who want to compromise their identities."

The more shared photos there are on Facebook, the more likely someone is to find them and utilize the information which accompanies them.

Most people aren't considering the information they're putting on the Internet until it's too late. It's important to educate people on how to prevent outside viewers from viewing the photos to begin with.

Facebook is in the process of fine-tuning privacy settings for these very reasons. It is now an option to allow only a small group of people to view certain information at one time.

 I would advise everyone to take advantage of these options, whether or not they are sharing information about their children, but especially if they are.

"It's a matter of being aware of what you're doing," MacDermott said. "When you're posting it to a public forum like Facebook, use privacy settings."

As easy as it is to assume no one but family is interested in newborn baby pictures, they are. And sometimes not for the right reasons.


taramaurer October 11, 2010 at 10:11 PM  

This is a very interesting story. My sister, who is not the most technologically advanced person, often posts pictures of my niece on Facebook. I have never really thought about whether Kari, my sister, uses the privacy settings available to her. However, I'm definitely going to bring it up to her after reading this blog. Identity theft is no laughing matter.

Nicole Gilbert October 12, 2010 at 10:24 AM  

I agree this is very interesting. I have al ot of family members and friends that post pictures of their kids on their Facebook pages. Those are there to keep people updated on how the kids are doing and every proud parent likes to show off their child. It is crazy to think that identity left could be possible for new borns simply because people put fun pictures on the computer for others to see. The privacy fuction is something to really consider in this case though.

sheyenne.manning October 13, 2010 at 12:56 PM  

I'm glad both of your were able to apply this information to your own lives. This isn't something I was even aware of before and it alarmed me to read about it. I almost felt it was my duty to let other people know about the possibilities. That's why I tweeted the story as well as writing about it in my blog.

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