Cybercriminals that steal financial information are as old as the Internet. They have come up with countless ways to sneak into computers and accounts to gain access to personal information. As soon as their scams are figured out they find a new way to steal from anyone they can, including kids.

Instead of letting cybercriminals scare you away from using and enjoying the Internet you can fight back against these thieves. Now individuals can better protect themselves and their kids through multiple layers of security.

Control Your Kid's Clicking

Explain to your kids that a single click on a link is all it takes to get a computer infected. Cybercriminals will find a person's information online (including kids) to send them emails that look legitimate or try to bait someone by saying that they've won a prize. This is what's known as "phishing". Make it clear to your kid that they are to never reply to unfamiliar emails with personal information and to never click links within the email.

Pop-ups are another big problem. Security software and parental controls are the best ways to control clicking here because they block the vast majority of pop-ups from even showing up. But kids should know that if one slips through the cracks they need to carefully close it immediately.

Check Your Financial Reports Monthly

You've probably heard it before, but checking your financial statements, credit card statements and credit reports monthly is essential. However, you also need to do searches for your kids as well. Most minors don't have a credit report - unless someone has stolen their information. Cybercriminals can use your kid's name and birthdate as well as their social security number to establish credit lines. If this occurs and goes unnoticed it can have serious repercussions for your child's financial wellbeing as well as their career and housing options.

You can check your credit report for free on all three of the major credit reporting agencies once a year. The big three are TransUnion, Equifax and Experian. Some credit cards also offer free, basic credit report checks as well.

Another safety precaution to take is to put a security freeze on your credit. This will make it so that a pin number you set is required to establish new credit lines.

Keep Your Financial Information Under Wraps

Kids sometimes don't understand that even basic information can give cybercriminals everything they need to hack into financial accounts. Despite this, many parents let their kids shop using online accounts, and 53% of parents say their kids have done so at times without their consent. Discuss the importance of not sharing personal and financial information online, including:

  • Social Security Number
  • Name
  • Birthdate
  • Email Address
  • Phone Number
  • Address
  • Passwords

Set a good example for your kids by never sharing your information at all unless you know 100% that the site is trusted.

Don't Make Purchases From Unfamiliar Sites

If you want to make a purchase on a website that you aren't familiar with take the time to check it out. The site URL should begin with https rather than http. Also look for a padlock icon in the address bar. Within the website look for logos that signify the site is trusted such as the company's BBB rating.

Controlling Purchases on Mobile Devices & Computers

There are two ways to control your kid's ability to make purchases using a mobile device. 1.) Completely restrict their ability to download apps. 2.) Set the device so that all purchases, including in-app purchases, require authentication.

However, purchases can still be made on websites. That's why you'll need to set ground rules for making purchases online - namely not making any purchases without permission. Never give your kids your financial information or allow the information to be saved on the account. Finally, set passwords for computers and devices so that strangers can't log onto your electronics if they are stolen or out of sight.

Teach your kids that public Wi-Fi networks can be dangerous. You and your kids should never input sensitive information when using a public Wi-Fi network that hackers could be trolling. You'll also need to protect your own Wi-Fi network. Check your router and ask your ISP what steps can be taken to keep hackers at bay.

Even though it's not prevalent yet today, cybercriminals are beginning to crack into mobile devices and infect them with malware through websites and emails. So don't let your guard down on a mobile device.

Tips for Banking Safely Online

Approximately 80% of families handle their banking online. Most don't realize hackers will target both individuals and banks when they are trying to gain access to financial information. Here are tips that can help you take advantage of the convenience of online banking without putting your finances at risk.

  • Create very strong passwords.
  • Sign up for alerts so you know if anything questionable occurs.
  • Review your online statements - especially if you go paperless.
  • Don't answer unsolicited text messages asking for information - this is called smishing.
  • Don't share computers and networks.
  • Be very careful when downloading bank apps. Know that it is a legitimate app for your bank.

Install Security Software

Hackers are programming upwards of 130 million viruses every year, and some of them can sneak in without you doing a single thing beyond visiting the wrong website. In the past it was easy to tell when your computer was infected because it would slow down and not function normally. But today cybercriminals are savvy enough to infect computers with malware that goes completely undetected by the user.

Security software is there to check the things you cannot see. As soon as a virus is detected the software will alert you. Most software can also block pop-ups and questionable websites so that kids don't unknowingly click the wrong links.

Additional Info:

8 Ways to Protect Your Identity While Online Shopping - U.S. News

Resources - Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

How to protect your finances from cyber hackers - Fortune




Teaching kids Internet safety is as important as teaching them to look both ways before crossing the street. Don't wait until their safety, your financial security or a family member's identity is compromised. Take action against cyber criminals that use the Internet to gain access into our lives and the lives of our children.