By Megan Farnam

Social media can be a great way to network and to stay connected to loved ones who aren’t nearby. It can be a place to have virtual discussions with a large group of people or share a message with an audience all over the world. It is a place to share what is happening in our lives and celebrate what is happening in others, but are we sharing too much?

We can all think of someone, maybe even yourself, who posts a loving birthday appreciation post for their children. It can go something like this… “Seven years ago today, Dylan James Ryder made me a mommy. He changed my world forever for the good and I cannot wait to see the man that he becomes.” Alongside this sweet message pictures are posted capturing Dylan’s seven years. A picture of when he was born with a geo tag of the hospital, a photo from his first day of elementary school in front of the school sign, a picture of him and his friends at a soccer party, and lastly, a photo from today with a geo tag at Dylan’s favorite restaurant. With this single birthday celebration post we have shared Dylan’s full name, his date of birth, the city/county that he was born in, the school that he attends, photos of his friends (possibly without their parent’s consent), and his current location.

Child identity theft happens when someone takes a child’s sensitive personal information and uses it to get services or benefits, or to commit fraud. They might use your child’s Social Security number, name and address, or date of birth. They could use the stolen information to apply for government benefits, like health care coverage or nutrition assistance, open a bank or credit card account, apply for a loan, sign up for a utility service, like water or electricity, or rent a place to live. In an effort to protect our children from identity theft, we need to ensure that we are not responsible for leaking their private information online.

Questions to ask yourself before you post:

  • Am I using good judgment and being a savvy internet user?
  • Can anyone use the information I am providing in a malicious way?
  • Is there any personal information that is being posted that I should omit?

Warning signs a child is a victim of identity theft can include:

  • A child receives bills in his or her name
  • A child receives credit cards or pre-approved credit card offers
  • A child receives calls from collection agencies
  • A credit report exists in the child’s name
  • The child’s parent receives a notice from the IRS that their child’s name and/or SSN is already listed on another tax return

For details on different types of identity theft and how you can prevent it, read Identity Theft Prevention & Identity Theft Response and The importance of freezing your child’s credit and your own.


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