Deal with ID theft 

If you are concerned that your child has had their identity stolen, on this section you’ll find support on how to deal with it and prevent it happening in the future.

What’s on the page

How should I protect my child from identity theft?

Here are a few things you can do to help you protect your child’s data and avoid incidence of ID theft or catfishing.

How to monitor children data and identity online
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If your child comes across a stranger – whether online or offline - they should avoid them and not reveal anything personal. Encourage them to stay anonymous where possible and use a username that is not their real name.

Go through the privacy settings with your child for every social networking site and app they use. Agree with them what they’ll share, and with whom.

Check the privacy settings on the devices they use. Look out for location services, sharing of contacts, photos, calendars, Bluetooth sharing, microphone, video, and advertising settings.

Search your child’s full name in several search engines and see what information and photographs are public.

If you find inaccurate comments or photographs that might damage your child’s reputation, ask the website to remove them.

Block pop-ups to help your child avoid downloading a virus that may harvest personal information.

Make regular visits to online safety sites like Cyberstreet, Thinkuknow, Childnet, or Parent Info to keep up to date with possible issues.

If your child’s identity has been stolen
- Tell and affected websites about the problem
- Your child should log in and change their password immediately
- If they can’t log in contact the technical support department
- Change any secret questions or other verification information sites use to identify users
- Check with credit reference agencies for any unusual entries, and for advice

Check their online privacy settings

Go through the privacy settings with your child for every social networking site and app they’re signed up to. Agree with them what they’ll share, and with whom.

Check their device settings

Check the privacy settings on their smartphone and tablet devices. Things to look out for are whether they are set up for location services, sharing of contacts, photos and calendars, bluetooth sharing, microphone, video and advertising. See our section on the safety pages of the main devices.

Find out what is already out there

Search your child’s full name in several search engines and see what information and photographs are public.

Take action

If you find any inaccurate comments or photographs that might damage your child’s reputation, ask the website on which they appear to remove them.

Don’t make it easy

When using public computer, your child can use ‘incognito browsing’ if they are using Google Chrome so that any log in or personal details aren’t stored by the browser.

Block pop-ups

If you’re worried about your child downloading viruses from pop-ups, BBC Webwise has advice on how to stop these.

Keep up to date

Make regular visits to online safety sites like Cyber AwareThinkuknowChildnet or Parent Info to stay up-to-date.

FAQ: Someone is using my child’s pictures on a fake social account, what can I do?

Each social platform has set community guidelines that will outline what action can be taken if someone is found to have set up a fake account pretending to be someone else on the platform. Outlined below are ways you can deal with this on the most popular platforms.

Facebook

On Facebook, you are required to use your real name as it appears in your passport so it’s easier to report if someone is impersonating you. To make a ‘report of an Imposter account‘ you’ll need to scan an image of your government ID (driving licence or passport), a notarised statement verifying your ID and a copy of a police report about your claim. You have to provide all the above as they will not process incomplete or inaccurate forms.

Instagram

The platform takes impersonation very seriously particularly as it relates to children. To report this on the platform please fill in this form.

Twitter

Although Twitter allows parody accounts if an account portrays you in a ‘confusing or deceptive manner‘ the platform can suspend the user permanently. You can also file a copyright complaint to get images taken down.

Snapchat

Impersonation is not allowed on any basis on Snapchat. To report a Snapchat account you believe is impersonating your child visit the Snapchat support centre and follow the steps.

Get help rescue-ring

See CEOP’s ThinkuKnow website for more parental advice on contacting social media sites.

our resources

What to do if your child’s identity is stolen

  • Tell any affected websites about the problem.
  • Your child should log in and change their password immediately.
  • If they can’t log in, go to the website’s technical support department for help.
  • Change any secret questions or other extra information sites ask for to verify your child’s identity.
  • Check with credit reference agencies for any unusual entries, and for advice.

Report it

If your child has become the victim of fraud report it to Action Fraud.

What to do if you’d like to take something down

Getting content deleted from a search engine – ‘right to be forgotten’

Under GDPR rules you can ask search engines to remove your child’s personal information if it meets certain criteria namely that “the impact on the individual’s privacy is greater than the public’s right to find it.”

Contact websites directly to remove incorrect or damaging information

If websites have posted public information about your child, contacting webmasters is one way to remove this information. Send an email or give them a call, and explain what, and why, you need something removed.

Regularly search for your child’s name

To ensure that any damaging information has been removed or has not spread to other parts of the web make sure to encourage your child to regularly search for themselves online not forgetting image searches as well. You can even set up Google alerts which will send you an email every time your child’s name appears in a post. This is the best way to keep an eye on what other people may be seeing about your child.

Reporting content to social media platforms

If your child’s social media account is being misused or you’d like a post to be taken down that you do not have control of, it is best to contact the platform or directly to the person who posted it. Also, it is beneficial to read the platform’s terms and conditions to make your child aware of what action they can be taken if they come across something that paints them in a bad light.

Visit our resource centre for links to the safety centres of the most popular social platforms to get further help on how to report online issues.

Resources document

Use this digital footprint checklist to clean up your online reputation.

See guide
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