id theft

Proud Parents are Enabling the Identity Theft of their Kids

#4 | Identity theft is a global epidemic and its about to get worse because of proud, well-meaning parents. Find out what I mean in the latest episode of The Jim Stroud Podcast.

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The Jim Stroud Podcast explores the future of life itself by examining emerging technology,  the changing world of work, cultural trends and everything in between.

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Over the past decade, Jim Stroud has built an expertise in sourcing and recruiting strategy, public speaking, lead generation, video production, podcasting, online research, competitive intelligence, online community management and training. He has consulted for such companies as Microsoft, Google, MCI, Siemens, Bernard Hodes Group and a host of startup companies. During his tenure with Randstad Sourceright, he alleviated the recruitment headaches of their clients worldwide as their Global Head of Sourcing and Recruiting Strategy. His career highlights can be viewed on his website at

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Hi, I’m Jim Stroud and this is my podcast.

Wikipedia defines ID theft as the deliberate use of someone else’s identity, usually as a method to gain a financial advantage or obtain credit and other benefits in the other person’s name, and perhaps to the other person’s disadvantage or loss. Pretty accurate, I think.

According to a report from Javelin Strategy & Research, in 2017, there were 16.7 million victims of identity fraud, a record high that followed a previous record the year before. The amount stolen hit $16.8 billion last year as 30 percent of U.S. consumers were notified of a data breach last year, an increase of 12 percent from 2016. And for the first time, more Social Security numbers were exposed than credit card numbers.

And what’s worse? Incidents of ID theft will be more frequent and even harsher on the next generation because… of… you. I’ll explain after a word from our sponsor.

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Did you know that children have more than 1,000 pictures of themselves posted online before they turn 13? I read that in an article published by The Telegraph, here’s a quote, ‘Anne Longfield, the Children’s Commissioner for England, said today children’s digital footprint was starting in the womb, from the moment parents posted their scans on social media. She also warned that children’s lives were being “datafied” on a huge scale as their personal information was being collected by smart toys, smart speakers and even school apps. Further down in the article, it says, “The report highlighted that an average child has around 1,300 photos and videos published of them on social media by parents before they turn 13. Then when children get on social media themselves they will on average post nearly 70,000 times between the ages of 11 and 18. The report said that parents could be unwittingly gifting frausters key information such as names, ages and addresses, by simply posting a picture of their child on their birthday.”

Now, how eye-opening is that? Today, hackers have to break into data systems to get the data they need to perform their mischief but for the next generation, all that information will be public; all courtesy of proud parents who volunteered it on the web.

As concerning as that is, there is hope for the online privacy of the next generation. What is this bright light at the end of the tunnel? It is not an oncoming train. It’s the trend of people abandoning social media. I’m not sure you noticed it, especially in the contentious political atmosphere of the United States, but people are leaving social media in favor of messaging apps. Increasingly common on Facebook and Twitter, especially since the election of President Trump and Brexit, are posts from users declaring their departure from social media. The reasons vary. Some blame the proliferation of fake news, others point out privacy issues and some just don’t like the impact it was having on real life relationships. Even at the beginning of 2016 the number of tweets was in monthly decline, and one 2017 study found that Android app Twitter use was down 23%, Instagram use down 23% and Facebook down 8%.

So, if people are leaving social media, where are they going? Messenger apps. Over 2.5 billion people have at least one messaging app installed. Within a couple of years, that will reach 3.6 billion, about half of humanity. The market’s leading duo, Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp, both owned by Facebook, are nearing one billion monthly users each. Many teenagers now spend more time on smartphones sending instant messages than perusing social networks. WhatsApp users average nearly 200 minutes each week using the service. When it comes to sharing, private messaging already dominates, with almost 70% of all online referrals coming from dark social.

Umm… And just as a FYI, Dark social is activity web analytics can’t track, it’s people sending and sharing links privately through communications such as email and instant messaging.

NOW, Is the trend of people leaving social media in favor of messaging apps a good thing? Well, yes, in terms of personal mental health and here is the proof of that – “The Happiness Research Institute” published a report called “The Facebook Experiment: Does social media affect the quality of our lives?’ In this report they worked with 1,095 people who frequent Facebook daily and divided them into 2 groups. One group continued life on Facebook as per normal and the other group abstained from Facebook entirely for one week. The result? The people who walked away from Facebook were happier. Additionally, these participants also were found to be more decisive and enthusiastic and were less worried, lonely and stressed compared to those who remained on Facebook. Meik Wiking, the CEO of the Happiness Research Institute attributed the results to people’s tendencies to compare themselves to others on social media.

All of that to say, if we are to slow down ID theft as we know it, we might want to consider reducing time spent on social media and opt to express ourselves on messaging apps. In this way, there is less material for hackers to find on the web and speaking of less material for hackers to find, I suggest you rethink what you post about your kids online. Check my blog at for information on that and other resources related to this podcast.

If you like what you just heard, hate what you just heard or don’t know what you just heard, I want to know about it. You can contact me via my website or you can message me on LinkedIn, Twitter… I’m everywhere, everywhere, everywhere. Oh, oh, if you want to support my Starbucks habit by dropping a little somethin’-somethin’ in the virtual tip jar I will not be mad at that, at all. There is a donation link in the podcast description. Thank you in advance.

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2 thoughts on “Proud Parents are Enabling the Identity Theft of their Kids”

  1. It’s actually scary. But knowing that I have set up NordVPN on every device in the house makes me feel a little better.

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