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5 Ways Cybercriminals Target Children Online

New IdentityTheft Scam

The internet can be a scary place for your children. Without protection and parental supervision, kids can be exposed to cybercriminals.

Digital kidnapping babies

From luring children in using apps to stealing photos from parents’ accounts, here are some of the different ways cybercriminals target kids.

1. Personal Information Posted Online

What many parents don’t realize is that their children can become victims of identity theft.

Most of the time, you won’t even know that a child’s identity has been stolen until problems come up. It could be years later when they apply for their first line of credit or get a college loan. Only then will they learn that a cybercriminal has been racking up debts in their name and the child is already a million-dollars deep in loans.

It’s a scary situation and what’s even scarier is that it could take years for your child to recover, all because their parents posted too much information online.

Children have clean slates, so cybercriminals can take out loans, open credit card accounts, and even apply for a rental property.

Among the telltale signs that your child has become a victim of identity theft is if they start getting mail from a debt collection agency. They may already have a credit report.

How to Protect Your Child

The good news is, there are ways to protect your children from this kind of theft.

Limit the information you share publicly and educate your child about the dangers of oversharing.

Take it a step further by freezing your child’s credit. Doing this will make it nearly impossible for criminals to open a new account in your child’s name even if they have his information.

2. Fake Gaming Apps

Many hackers use fake game apps to lure kids into downloading malware into their computers. They often use popular titles to trick children into downloading counterfeit applications that contain malicious software.

Some of these apps are cloaked as the game’s “early release”, a new edition, or a helpful guide. Others are repackaged versions of the legitimate app.

They can contain a host of malware that can allow hackers to harvest login information and bank details or spy on your activities. Some can give hackers remote access to your device and perform operations without you knowing it.

Downloading the fake app could sometimes redirect the child to a malicious site where they will be asked to download other files. These often have inconsistent names or unfamiliar file extensions.

How to Protect Your Child

Make sure your child always uses the official app stores. Apps are screened before appearing on these, but Android users can still be tricked into downloading fraudulent software from other app stores. Jailbroken iPhones can also bypass authorized services, so we advise against using them.

Protect your children by activating restrictions, requiring a password or authorization for downloads or purchases, and configuring parental controls on your family computer.

Cyber creeps also use social media to connect with children. While some pretend to be someone else through a practice called catfishing, others use “online grooming”. This can be across a short- or long-term period to gain a child’s trust.

They may get a seemingly-innocent invitation to connect at first. Then, the predator will begin asking about the child’s day or things he or she likes. Predators will also convince the child to keep their conversations a secret then start learning about vulnerabilities to exploit.

RELATED: 6 Safety Tips to Protect Your Kids From Catfishing and Other Online Threats

They may send sexual messages disguised as compliments then coax children into sending sexualized images. They can also blackmail kids into performing sexual activities by threatening to send friends and family the photos that the kids previously sent. In extreme cases, this can lead to meetings in real life.

And what’s even worse is that most social media apps can use the device’s location settings. This means that a predator will know where the child is and learn about routines and routes, i.e. when going to school.

How to Protect Your Child

This is particularly scary so protect your children by setting their social media profiles to private, disabling geotagging, and configuring parental controls on your computer.

Trust and education goes a long way, so talk to them about this type of scam. Make sure they realize the implications of sharing personal information and pictures.

4. Photos Parents Post Online

digital kidnapping babies online

Digital kidnapping is a threat many parents don’t realize exists. It is done by stealing a child’s photo and using them on other sites to pretend that this child is their own. Thid could lead to baby role-playing.

Baby role-players create fake accounts using stolen photos, give these babies new identities, and post false details in the captions. Strangers can then impersonate them by replying in the comments from the point of view of the child. While some comments are not malicious, others can be downright disturbing.

By posting photos of your children publicly, you may also be exposing them to pedophiles. These predators steal photos from parents’ accounts and share them on sexual abuse sites or pedophile groups. Even pictures of children doing normal things can be manipulated into appearing sexual and then used for online child pornography.

How to Protect Your Child

Parents should always check the privacy settings of their accounts to make sure they are only sharing children’s photos with trusted friends and family.

5. In-Game Chat


The online capability of your child’s PlayStation, Xbox, or Nintendo Switch could be putting your child within reach of gaming predators. They use the in-chat features of multiplayer online video games as their new hunting ground.

They often pose as children to gain their victim’s trust. Then they will manipulate kids into sending sexually explicit photos and videos, revealing personal details, or meeting in person.

How to Protect Your Child

Set up parental controls on your child’s console. These can help you set playtime restrictions or limit communication and user-generated content. This will allow you to prevent your child from talking to other players through messages, chat, and game invitations.

It can also block videos, images, or text created by other players.

Take Control

The internet is teeming with unscrupulous cybercriminals that see your child as an easy target. As a parent, your job is to make sure your children are protected when they go online. Aside from setting parental controls and regularly checking privacy settings, it’s also important for you to constantly communicate with your kids about online hazards.

Talk to them and check on them often. Pay attention to their body language because these could clue you in on things they may be keeping from you. Let them know that they can turn to you, whatever happens.


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Source: on 2020-11-11 15:03:45

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