Friday, September 9, 2011

Protecting Children Against Identity Theft In A Social Media World

You have taken strides to protect your children at school, at the supermarket and at the park. And by monitoring their Internet access, you have tried to protect them in cyberspace as well. But new reports show that, while identity protection software has never been more prevalent, identity theft is on the rise. And the thieves have a new target: children.

According to a new report from USA Today, the Federal Trade Commission has levied several large fines against companies targeting children. These companies track internet activity and distribute information, in violation of the Children's Online Privacy and Protection Act, or COPPA. App maker W3 Innovations had to cough up $50,000 after they collected information on children and targeted products to kids younger than 13. Earlier this year the FTC wrested a record $3 million settlement from online game developer Playdom, now a division of Disney, for similar COPPA violations.

Child safety advocates have stressed the seriousness of these offenses, saying that childrens' new-found infatuation with online social networks and mobile devices have left them vulnerable to identity thieves and pedophiles.

Many households have attached further privacy measures on their home computers to protect these portals to their children. VPN services allow parents to filter all children's internet activities through an encrypted server so they can't be followed or tracked. Private information disappears every time your child logs off the computer, giving parents added peace of mind against this new breed of child predator.