Protect Your Children from ID Theft

UntitledDid you know your child’s identity may be stolen even before they’re born? And, the likelihood that a child or teen’s identity has been, or will be, stolen before they reach adulthood is rising dramatically – it’s the fastest growing segment of ID theft in the U.S. Some estimates suggest that children are up to 51 times more likely to be a victim of identity theft[i].

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Guess What? It Turns out We Can’t Walk and Talk at the Same Time

123The old insult, ‘that guy can’t even walk and talk at the same time’, may be closer to the truth than we might feel comfortable with in the digital age.

We’ve all had the experience of unavoidably hearing someone’s cellphone call, sometimes where very sensitive or embarrassing information is shared.

Then recently we learned from the National Safety Council that cellphone-related car crashes is among the top causes of fatal injury in the United States, particularly among teens. According to the report, “Young people are dying in crashes that appear to be related to cellphones and other distractions — not alcohol or drugs.” Continue reading

4 Data Security Questions to Ask Your Tax Accountant

One of the few people who will ever have complete access to all of your most sensitive personal information is your tax preparer.

And identity thieves know it.Untitled123

They know that the data stored by tax preparers about you and your family will be the freshest, most profitable, and some of the most sought after data in the world.

It is easy for someone to set up a website and claim they’re a tax expert open for business.  It’s also easy for them to create a bunch of fake recommendations to sprinkle though their site to beef up your comfort level. With this in mind, before you choose new tax accountant or preparer, it pays to do your research. Check them out with the Better Business Bureau, or ask friends who they use and recommend. Continue reading

Internet Companies Really DO NOT Need to Know Who You Are

It seems that no matter what website or web service you visit, you’re asked to register; some sites won’t even let you in without first registering. And I’m not even talking about subscription sites.Untitled

It’s easy to understand why companies generally want as much of your information as they can convince you to give them, as this allows them to make the most money. But, every consumer needs to ask whether providing personal information of any kind is:

a)     actually needed by the service or webpage to provide you with a good experience,

b)     will provide you a tangible benefit, and

c)     worth the increased risk of identity theft or data abuse Continue reading

Big Data, Big Potential – for Good and for Harm

There are dozens of definitions for the new buzz phrase “big data”, but it’s easiest to think of it as one or more huge collections of data that can be analyzed to find trends, opportunities, and answers. For example, ‘big data’ collections help predict weather and climate patterns, they can help governments identify population trends, and they help medical researchers find common threads and insights that lead to new ways to tackle diseases.Untitled

Big data is getting bigger, and the analysis tools are getting better. As more data is collected and tools make interpretation of patterns and trends easier, more companies, organizations and government bodies are collecting and analyzing data – or purchasing the analysis from companies that specialize in this field.

Big data does well at predicting large trends, but when those broad predictions are applied to an individual, sometimes it can be unreasonable, intrusive or flat out wrong Continue reading

When, How and Why to Monitor Teen’s Online Accounts

People always ask me for online advice, and I’m happy to provide it, so feel free to keep asking. I’ve noticed several recurring themes to the questions, so I will include answers to some of the most frequently asked questions in my posts so you can benefit from them too.

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Question: I allowed my teen to open a Facebook account, but how can I monitor it without my teen knowing?

Answer: There are several ways you can spy on your teen’s – or anyone’s – every online action if that is what you truly want to do, but it is not a decision I support. Continue reading

Are You Battling With Your Kids and Teens over Privacy, Safety, and Security Settings?

Parental Controls Comic

I am always happy to share answers to recurring questions I receive from people struggling with aspects of internet safety, security or privacy. Here’s another common question and response that addresses the battles so many parents seem to have with their kids and teens over ‘parental controls.’

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As Your Teens Increase Time Online, What’s Getting Cut?

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On average teens now spend four hours and four minutes a day online. That’s a dramatic 37% increase from just under three hours a day that teens averaged a year ago according to newly released research by GfK[i].  That’s in addition to the time teens spend on other types of media ( like watching TV),  bringing the average daily total amount of time teens spend with media to more than 11 hours per day, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics[ii].

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