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BellaOnline's Missing and Exploited Children Editor

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Keeping Personal Information Safe


At one time I had considered placing my child’s name on the outside of their school bag or lunch box believing it would alleviate any confusion in whose back pack was whose during the end of the day rush to line up for the bell. Yet, I failed to realize the danger I might be placing my child in at the same time. So I now consider carefully what I allow my children to wear on the outside of their clothes, backpacks, jackets, hats, and even personalized jewelry.

One concern is sport uniforms for baseball or softball leagues where most team jerseys display a child’s first or last name or both on the back of the jersey. Consider using a number or nickname, rather than a first or last name. A number or nickname will protect children and prevent someone from using that information to catch them off guard. Remember, children are vulnerable.

Consider what you post on your face book page, especially when it comes to pictures of family or children. If you do post pictures use a first initial only, after all family and friends will already know the child’s name and no one else needs to know. Using your child’s name places them at risk, especially if you post personal information such as your current living location or where you work. When I refer to my daughter on line I use the name “sissy” and for my son, “buddy”. My last name is different than my children through divorce so the likely hood of someone finding them in real life is slim.

When sharing pictures online is careful as you never know what information will end up being discovered or revealed by a hacker or even a friend or family member by accident. Having children on face book posting where they live, or go to school is never appropriate, and even parents posting where they live and where they work or when they are not home also poses a risk to their children. When you are at a child’s baseball game, on vacation, or at a social event and you post that information from your Smartphone to your face book or other social media site you may be inviting danger into your home or life.

This is also true for GPS systems on smart phones or in vehicles, if you use your home address as a location point and your phone or car is ever stolen the thieves can push the home button and locate where you live. Consider changing your home address to a nearby gas station or grocery store address within a mile or two of your home. Everyone can figure out how to get to home from the store up the street yet thieves will not be able to find your home if you lose your phone. Children should not list home addresses in their cell phones or other electronic devices or on social media sites. Instead list a parent’s cell phone number in the event the item is lost and later found by someone trying to return it to the legitimate owner.

Look carefully at the outside of your home. Do you have a last name on your mailbox? Is there personal mail visible through your car window? Names, especially unusual ones are easy to Google and locate information online. Leaving mail in plain sight tells the world who you are and where you live. If you donate magazines after reading them, be sure to remove your name and address before passing them onto the doctor’s office or nursing home.

Times are difficult and people are more desperate then previously. Protect your personal information and teach children to do the same. Remember what is posted online cannot be retracted, so be careful when deciding what personal information to place out there. Your privacy settings may be set to protect your information, but if you post on a friend’s wall and they have everything listed about where they live or go to school, your information may be discovered by default. So, watch what people are putting out there and consider educating them to the dangers of telling the whole world where they eat, sleep, school, or work.
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Content copyright © 2014 by Erika Lyn Smith. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Erika Lyn Smith. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Erika Lyn Smith for details.

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