Summer safety for your children doesn’t just apply to sunscreen and insect repellent. Or to knee pads and helmets. It applies to their identities, especially to Social Security numbers and geotags.
Let’s start with the former. When you sign your child up for summer camp or a sports team, you may have to fill out forms that ask for your child’s SSN. Before you do, ask how the organization plans to keep this number safe. Will it be in an unsecure database or an unlocked file cabinet?
If possible, avoid sharing your child’s SSN at all. Ask if you can supply another form of identification, such as showing but not making a copy of your child’s birth certificate.
Now, the latter concern. Once the fun begins, your child’s camp or team may post photos online. While it might be nice to see photos while your child is away or to have pictures to share with friends and family, today’s technology means that a photo is more than a photo.
Digital cameras and smartphones embed a code known as a “geotag” into every photo. What is it? The GPS coordinates of where the photo was taken. In other words, an innocent photo of your children could potentially tell strangers where they have soccer practice every Tuesday or what camp they are staying at for the next two weeks.
By tracking various photos of your children over the summer, other parents or complete strangers may be able to determine where you live and when you aren’t at home. If you’re concerned, ask about a photo policy. Make it known you’re not comfortable with camp counselors, coaches or other parents posting photos of your kids.
Even your own family photos can pose a risk. Before you head off on vacation, disable the geotag functions on your photo devices. Try a Google search to learn how since every device is different.
Posting photos with geotags while you’re away is an unintentional invitation for criminals to stop by your unoccupied home and steal your personal information along with your valuables.