SOURCE: support.com

August 21, 2007 08:05 ET

support.com Offers Computer Tips to Parents to Help Prevent Child Identity Theft

REDWOOD CITY, CA--(Marketwire - August 21, 2007) - Identity theft fraud has climbed more than 50 percent since 2003, and about 15 million Americans were victimized by this crime in the 12 months ending August, 2006 according to Gartner, Inc.(1) Gartner adds that the average losses per victim more than doubled in most fraud categories, yet the amounts refunded to victims decreased by 26 percent, when compared with 2005.

The Federal Trade Commission, the government agency that monitors complaints for identity fraud, says that only about five percent of complaints involve the identity theft of children. However, the FTC also claims that the problem may be currently underreported due to the fact that many parents aren't aware their children's identity has been stolen until the child is old enough to apply for credit. It's only then that they could discover that someone else is using their child's social security number.

support.com, a remote tech support service leveraging 10 years of experience and seven patents for resolving computer problems, offers seven computer tips for parents to help safeguard their children's identity.

1. Vigilantly guard your child's social security number online. If you absolutely must submit it online, make sure that the site is using a secure server. The website URL in the address bar should start with an "https" instead of "http," where the "s" stands for secure. In addition, look at the bottom of the screen to find a closed padlock icon, indicating the site is using a secure server. Never submit your child's social security number when using a wireless hot spot. In addition, keep all personal data that is stored on the computer hidden, encrypted and password protected.

2. Make sure your computer has up-to-date anti-virus and anti-spyware software installed. If your computer isn't protected on an ongoing basis, identity thieves may be able to gain access and steal your personal information. First, make sure these programs haven't expired. Then, to make sure your anti-spyware software is updated, it is often as simple as enabling the software to perform automatic updates. For anti-virus software, enable the software's automatic scanning and update feature to run every day.

3. Make sure your firewall is running and up to date. Firewall software or hardware can block hackers from gaining access to your computer and its information. Like anti-virus software, firewalls must be updated regularly and high-speed Internet users are particular vulnerable without a firewall. Windows XP and Vista have firewalls already installed, and you simply need to make sure they are turned on and enabled for automatic updates on a regular basis.

4. Secure your home wireless network. Unsecured wireless networks can leave your computer network, and all the information on it, open to malicious hackers. Hackers know the pre-set passwords of this kind of equipment, so be sure to change your wireless network's password from the default setting, change it often and never share it (or other passwords) with anyone else. In addition, turn off your wireless network when you are not using it.

5. Set your browser to a higher security setting. To help further protect your computer's information, set your browser security setting to medium or higher. Check the "Tools" or "Options" menus to find out how to change this setting. If you use Internet Explorer, take advantage of the updates available in Windows, which installs updates to the browser automatically.

6. Make sure the administrator account on your PC has a password. Many computers shipped with Windows XP have a hidden administrator account with no password, which could allow an unauthorized user to gain access to your PC and steal information. It's a good idea to make sure that all user accounts have passwords as well.

7. Teach your children safe Internet use. For younger children, keep a close eye on their Web usage and check the privacy policies on the sites they visit. Make absolutely sure your child understands the importance of not giving out personal information to anyone. For older children, also ensure they understand not to give out any personal information. They should know to be careful when file sharing, and shouldn't open documents from people they don't know.

"Protecting your child's identity is largely an issue of protecting their social security number, which involves vigilance outside of any computer use. Parents should be cautioned against giving out their child's social security number to anyone other than for tax purposes, banking or employment," said Anthony Rodio, chief marketing officer responsible for support.com. "However, parents should also take steps to make sure their child's personal information is safe when using their computer as an added precaution."

Other resources for parents to find out more regarding identify theft include:

The Identity Theft Resource Center

Federal Trade Commission Identity Theft Resource Site

Annual Credit Report Site

About SupportSoft and support.com

SupportSoft (NASDAQ: SPRT) is a leading provider of software and services for technology problem resolution. The Company's solutions reduce technology support costs, improve customer satisfaction and enable new revenue streams for companies reaching 50 million users worldwide. The Company has expanded its offerings and now provides Instant Technology Relief(SM) to frustrating technology problems directly to consumers through http://www.support.com/. For more information about the Company and its corporate offerings, visit http://supportsoft.com/; for Instant Technology Relief (SM) to consumer technology problems, visit http://www.support.com/ or dial 1-800-PC-SUPPORT.

(1) The Truth Behind Identity Theft Numbers Gartner Inc. February 28, 2007 Avivah Litan

Contact Information

  • Media Contacts:

    Jennifer Massaro
    SupportSoft, Inc.
    +1 (650) 556-8596
    Email Contact

    Stephanie Rice
    Ruder Finn for SupportSoft
    +1 (310) 882-4008
    Email Contact