FOX43 Finds Out: protecting kids’ information

HARRISBURG, Pa --Hundreds of children's names, addresses, dates of birth, social security numbers and public health information might have been viewable online.

The County Commissioners association of Pennsylvania says the security breach of the state's children and youth services data base happened earlier this year and it impacts at least 83 kids in York and Adams counties.

Officials tell FOX43 that based on the investigation, they have no indication that the information was inappropriately used.

Cyber security experts say it's a breach like that parents should be worried about.

"If something has been public for any amount of time you almost have to make the assumption that it's been seen and taken," said Andrew Hacker, a cyber security expert at Harrisburg University.

He says it's becoming more common for crooks to steal children's information to get things like credit cards or loans.

"Certainly now with a lot of the larger data thefts, your children's data is in a lot more places than it used to be 5 or 10 years ago," said Hacker.

Besides the big issue of someone posing as your child, there's another issue.

You might not know about the fraud for years, until your child grows up and tries to get their own credit card or car loan.

Hacker says "It's a big hassle to have to go and prove that it didn't happen, especially if it's 5 or 10 years post fact. Right?"

He also says it's not just big data breaches we should worry about.

We're asked for our information much more these days, whether it be a phone number for a return at a retail store or permission to download an app.

This is why hacker says we need to start really reading before we click "OK."

"If you get any documentation from any organization, whether it's a school or a camp or something, read through their privacy policies and understand how they're actually protecting your child's information."

As of now, there is no special protection for children's identities.

What can you do if you know your kids information may be out there?

Hacker has some advice.

"Do whatever you need to do. Change passwords, obviously you can't change your social security number but, anything any type of information that might have been part of that. Do your best to try to change that up so it's not relevant anymore."

The Federal Trade Commissions has a ton of information when it comes to child identity theft including some warning signs:  like if your kid is turned down for government benefits because the benefits are being paid to another account using your child`s social security number or they get a notice from the IRS saying the child didn`t pay income taxes, or that the child`s social security number was used on another tax return.

Even some kids get collection calls or bills for products or services you didn't receive.

If your think your information is at risk, you can check whether your child has a credit report under their name of social security number.