IT SEEMS adults are not the only ones whose identities are being stolen.
Parents may think their children being on Facebook is cute but social networking may be exposing kids to the threat of identity theft. And the problem is that they will probably not find out about the mischief committed against them until they are old enough to apply for a loan or credit card. By then, they may just find out they have acquired a very bad credit record because some person had used their names to obtain loans and credit cards that were not paid.
Karin Zeitvogel, in a story for the French news agency Agence France Presse (AFP), said the State of the Net survey of the American Consumer Reports found identity theft one of the major risks faced by children who are on Facebook. Other common threats are computer viruses, bullying and sexual predation.
She cited a separate study published by Richard Power of Carnegie Mellon University’s CyLab cyber security research center which found 10 percent of children in the United States had their social security numbers stolen and used to apply for drivers’ licenses and loans to buy cars or even houses.
Zeitvogel reported: “The rate of identity theft among children was 51 times higher than for adults, Power said in his study.”
It was found, Zeitvogel said, that some 7.5 million of the 20 million minors who used Facebook in the past year were younger than 13, the minimum age the site required of its users. The younger children, sometimes with the parents’ consent, got around the restriction by giving false ages. And their use of the site was often unsupervised by adults.
The American Consumer Reports, because of the results of its survey, urged parents to delete preteens’ Facebook accounts or ask the social networking site to do so by using the Report an Underage Child form.
Parents with credit cards who are buying supplies and other things their children will need for school opening may want to avail of special instalment options offered by several large department store chains. Most establishments will allow you to pay for a minimum of P5,000 in credit-card purchases in three equal instalments at zero-percent interest.
The Robinsons chain offers an even better deal. For a minimum of only P3,000 credit-card purchases, you can pay up to six months at zero-percent interest. Its sister establishment, Howard’s Storage, has a similar offer. You can get stuff to help you organize your children’s things so they would not have to turn the house upside down to find what they need.
By the time a new semester or school year opens, you will have finished paying for your purchases and ready to start all over again. You can save your cash for more urgent expenses.
Taxi companies may have to find some other supplier of meters that issue receipts. On any given week, at least two or three meters of taxis I take malfunction and are unable to issue receipts. Drivers tell me it is a common “ailment” of the new meters. Of course, it could also be because drivers have not been properly trained in the operation of these meters.
Whatever the reason and given the significant increase in fare, taxi operators owe it to customers to make sure the meters are working or are operated properly so people get receipts. And they should instruct drivers to issue receipts without being asked.
Send letters to The Consumer, Lifestyle Section, Philippine Daily Inquirer, 1098 Chino Roces Ave. cor. Mascardo and Yague Sts., 1204 Makati City; fax 8974793/94; or e-mail [email protected]