Your Kids’ Social Media May be Your Weak Link in Identity Security

Becker Suffern McLanahan, Ltd. |

Perhaps the weakest links in the family security chain are the younger family members. The rise of social media as a gateway for children’s interaction with the world presents a substantial risk for families who otherwise try to keep a low profile. By posting details of their whereabouts, activities and plans, family members can inadvertently compromise their family’s security.

The rapid evolution of social media and online databases has significantly altered the safety and security landscape for families. Careless online behavior allows criminals to easily glean addresses, birthdays, family relationships, images and other personally identifiable information for ill purposes. For instance, in 2015, New Hampshire police arrested a burglary ring that had stolen at least $100,000 of cash and other valuables by targeting the homes of people who had shared their location via social media networks.  

Criminals can also use personal information to clone someone’s profile and gain acceptance into his circle of friends. Then they use that position to launch various confidence schemes. Other criminals have hacked into personal email accounts and then used the information to direct financial advisors to wire money to fictitious accounts.

Children represent a particular concern given their willingness to share personal details and build large followings as a sign of social status. Recently, a billionaire computer mogul with a $2.7 million personal security detail had to shut down his daughter’s Instagram account because she was sharing potentially dangerous details about the family’s vacation plans.

To guard against these cyber risks, families should set clear guidelines about what and when information can be shared online for the entire family. They should also engage a monitoring service that can alert them when privacy policies change and sensitive information becomes exposed online. These services can often help remove such information or spread misinformation to confuse potential criminals.

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