How to Identify If Your Kids Are in Trouble and How to Respond to an Incident

By Chris Roberts

How to Identify If Your Kids Are in Trouble and How to Respond to an Incident

It Happened…

  • Congratulations, little Johnny’s been pre-approved for a loan!
  • Jemima’s gotten her first Capital One credit card…at 9 years old?
  • The IRS would like to talk to young Sarah, just as soon as she wakes up from her afternoon nap!
  • The Debt collectors would like to talk to Sammy, just as soon as he’s out of preschool…
  • Amanda got an email from someone saying they’re going to release all her personal pictures…
  • Fredrick’s apparently run up the credit card by buying everything on Amazon?!?
  • And more…
These and a LOT more aren’t just whimsical, they’re daily occurrences that we see across the globe. We’ve had the discussion about how TO reduce the risks, how to educate and raise awareness, now let’s explore what to do when it all goes wrong.

First steps:

If your child confides in you about something scary, inappropriate, or concerning that they encountered online, your first response shouldn’t be to take away their Internet privileges. Be supportive and work with your child to help prevent this from happening in the future, go back to the discussions, the education, and the awareness, after all we ALL make mistakes. Remember that your child is going to grow up and needs to understand not just how to behave but how to exercise judgment, reaching their own conclusions on how to explore the Net and life in general in a safe and productive manner.

Next Steps:

Fact gathering time, what happened, how did it happen, what can you see, what can you discuss, and can you get close enough to the source or root cause to understand the implications and what might have been compromised? (SSN, DOB, PII, Healthcare information, Etc.)
Containment strategy, what damage has been done, what is perceived vs. reality, and what needs to happen to stop the bleeding (digitally) and how can you go about doing this? (Google IS your friend at this point AS is the InfoSec community as a whole!)
Throughout this whole process, you’re going to have to learn to count to 10 (or 100) to breathe AND to again NOT blame the kids… remember, we ALL click, and we ALL make mistakes….your role here IS to help them see that there’s light at the end of the tunnel AND how they get there safely.


Decide what course of action needs to be taken, is it a financial, social media, school, healthcare, or another type of incident? Once that’s been established you can move onto the remediation/action stage, with a plan, a full grasp of the situation, and can readily articulate it to others who have the potential to act upon that information.

And Finally (but equally as importantly)
Social Media, image removal:

And for more intimate material…

Identity Theft:
  • Contact major credit bureaus. 
    - If a profile exists and a line of credit has been extended to your child, ask for a copy of the credit report and review it. After reviewing the report, you can ask the bureau to delete the account and remove any information associated with the stolen Social Security number, freeze the account, and issue a fraud alert to the other major bureaus. 

    - Note: You will be asked to provide the agencies with a copy of the Uniform Minor’s Status Declaration, establishing the child is a minor.

  • File a fraud report with the Federal Trade Commission. 
    - Call 1-877-438-4338. To learn more about the FTC and how they handle consumer complaints, visit their site here.

  • File an identity theft report with the FTCs recovery team.
    - You can file your report online through their online portal.

  • Close any fraudulent accounts. 

    - Contact any businesses where your child’s information may have been used.
    - They may require a claim confirmation from the FTC before closing the account.
  • Remain educated, aware, and protected against future attacks. 

    - Unfortunately, once an identity has been compromised, the individual and their information is likely to be targeted down the road. If your child was the victim of identity theft, consider researching an identity theft monitoring company which offers age-specific plans. Designed to scan for the unique identity information of individuals under the age of 18, ID monitoring services for children can be an invaluable layer of defense.
    - As busy parents, it’s difficult to keep tabs on your child's information. However, after recovering from ID theft, it’s extremely important for parents to utilize the tools and services that can alert you to future issues. 
IF all of this sounds familiar it’s because it’s the same advice we give in the adult world to clients and organizations…OODA, Observe, Orient, Decide, then Act.