Video Games Could Increase Children’s Risk of Identity Theft

Social media and video games dominate much of today’s youths’ time. However, just because they are accessing these sites from the privacy of their home, that doesn’t make them safe.

Each year more than 140,000 children are victims of identity theft and fraud in the U.S., according to IDAnalytics, a risk-management firm. With the gaining popularity of online video gaming, chances are your child is putting his or her own identity, as well as yours, at risk.

The Entertainment Software Association reports 72% of American households play video or computer games and 13% are boys under the age of 17. XBox Live has an estimated 35 million registered users, and PlayStation Network has 77 million estimated registered users.

Parents are also present when games are purchased or rented 91% of the time, according to the ESA, showing parents have opportunities to step in and make sure their identities, as well as their children’s, are protected.

Adam Levin, chairman and founder of IDTheft911, said parents have become more attuned to the dangers their children face when gaming online due to the massive Sony data breach earlier this year. Children and teens are almost always using their parents’ credit card information when gaming online, so if your child is impacted, you will be too.

“Kids have a tendency to be more open, and they don’t understand the dangers of identity theft—one wouldn’t expect them to,” Levin said. “It all goes to the heart of the issue of financial literacy.”

When gaming online, kids do not often read the fine print of the terms of the company they are gaming with, Levin said.

“Identity theft is not [100%] preventable,” he said. “But you can restrict the amount of information you give to people who don’t have your best interests at heart.”

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