Here’s How You Can… Almost…Delete Yourself Off of the Internet

Whether you like it or not, companies like Facebook, Google, and Amazon all have a ton of data about you, including social connections, health information, and things you like or dislike. These companies usually use this information for advertising and marketing purposes, other companies out there also are collecting information on you to influence you politically, and you probably don’t want them to have it.

Here’s How You Can... Almost...Delete Yourself Off of the Internet

The bad news is, that it is next to impossible to totally delete yourself from the internet. Keep in mind that if your data has been hacked, such as usernames and passcodes on sites that were breached, that data will live on the dark web forever. Check if your email, as a username was compromised on my site here: https://protectnowllc.com/hacked-checker/ The good news, however, is that you can remove a lot of your data if you put a little time and effort into it. Here are some steps to follow:

Opt-Out When You Can

You probably wouldn’t be surprised to know that collecting and selling consumer data is a big industry. In 2019, Vermont passed a law that required any company doing business in the state and buying and selling third-party info to register. More than 120 companies went through the process, and they collect information such as names, DOBs, addresses, education level, buying habits, and yes…. even Social Security numbers.

Some of these companies might be familiar to you — Oracle, Equifax, Experian, Acxiom, and Epsilon are some of them. There are data brokers that allow people to opt-out of this type of data collection, but it can be difficult to figure out how to do it. You may have to fill out a form online, send them an email, or even send in other identifying information.

There is an organization that can help – it’s called the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse. Here, you can access a database of more than 200 different data brokers, and you can see information on whether or not you can opt-out. You can also take a look at YourDigitalRights to get opt-out forms for the top 10 biggest data brokers.

Ask Google to Remove Your Personal Info

Another thing that you can do is to ask Google to remove your personal contact info from search results. You can remove your home address, your phone number, and your email address.

You can get started with this by going to this Google Support site to begin the process. Here, you can submit up to 1,000 URL’s that include information about you, and it will be removed from Google search results.

This doesn’t happen automatically. The company will review the request, and then contact you if more information was necessary. Once everything is in place, Google will let you know if it will approve the request. Some things, like public record or news articles, will not be removed, and people can still find this information by searching a name.

Also, keep in mind that just because your information is removed from Google, there are other search engines out there.

Get Rid of Old Accounts 

If you really want to minimize your online presence, deleting any accounts that you no longer use can be a real help. Did you have an account on MySpace? Try to delete it. Did you blog on Tumblr during high school? Scrap it.

Though it’s easy to delete a lot of these old accounts, it’s also pretty time-consuming. Start by making a list of any old accounts you can remember, and then go through them one by one. You will have to go to each site, and then figure out how to log in and then delete the account. To make things easier, you can use a site called Justdelete.me, which will point you to the page where you can start the process.

You also might want to search for your name, email address, or other information to see what comes up. If you see posts that come up, you may be able to contact the site administrator to remove the information.

Clean Up Your Online History 

If you don’t want to delete old accounts, that’s totally fine. However, you can still clean up some of the old data that may be stored online. For instance, your Twitter or Facebook timelines may have old messages on them that you don’t want to get out in public. You can also do similar with your email account.

Data that is posted publicly, like text or photos, is much more easily found than other information, but make sure prior to deleting, that you are backing these things up if you may want to ever access it. Almost all social media platforms have a backup option in settings that you can use to do this.

For those who want to get rid of old tweets in bulk, Twitter doesn’t let you do that. However, other programs like TweetDelete and Tweet Deleter will get rid of it. It’s not free, however, but once you do it once, at $5.99 a month for Tweet Deleter, you can cancel after that first month. Also, remember, that when you give third-party service access to your account, they can access information that is within those accounts, like direct messages. Alternatively, if you don’t use your Twitter account, just delete it.

Facebook posts are a bit different. Google, for instance, won’t post information from individual Facebook posts online, but if you want to do the most possible to remove your history, you can go into your account and delete them. You can make it a bit easier by checking out the Activity Log, and then choosing what you want to delete. Alternatively, if you no longer use your Facebook account, you can delete it.

Pay Someone to Do It 

Of course, there is a market for anything, and if you don’t want to spend the time to do all of this yourself, you can definitely hire a company to do it for you. These third-party data removal companies will do the time-consuming job of removing your data from the internet. Some, like DeleteMe, can attempt to remove the data from brokers who are selling your info. Others, like Jumbo, can give you an alert when there are data breaches that your accounts might be a part of, or it can be set to delete social media posts after a certain period of time.

Preparing for the Future 

As you can see, it’s probably possible to remove some of your information, but once a lot of it is out there, it’s nearly impossible to remove it all. However, the future is yet to be written, so there are some things that you can do to protect yourself in the years to come.

First, consider what type of information you really want to put online. When you sign up for a new account, consider what type of information you are comfortable sharing, and if you can, consider using a burner email account. This is an account that you can use to sign up for new accounts that are different from your actual email account. That way, when you start getting all of the spam, it goes to this account, and not your main account. Additionally, if this account gets compromised, it’s not a huge deal, assuming there is no identifying information kept in it.

You also might consider not using the “big guys” for your online browsing. For instance, you can choose a web browser that is not Chrome or Safari-like Brave, or a search engine that isn’t Google, like Duck Duck Go. You also should truly understand what type of information is shared by the apps or programs you are using.

Finally, you need to talk to your family and friends. If you really want to be invisible online, then you should make sure everyone knows. Most people will be considerate of your request. It’s a respect issue these days, and there could be many reasons why you don’t want your current location or photos of yourself posted to social media sites. Tagging you in things should also be avoided.

Written by Robert Siciliano, CEO of Credit Parent, Head of Training & Security Awareness Expert at Protect Now, #1 Best Selling Amazon author, Media Personality & Architect of CSI Protection Certification.

Be Aware of These Safe Travel Security Tips

Covid seems to be on the downswing (hopefully). Airlines are reporting record-breaking bookings. There are a number of travel security considerations to be made when traveling domestically and even more when internationally.

Rental Cars

Be Aware of These Safe Travel Security TipsIf you are planning an upcoming vacation or a business trip, you might be thinking about renting a car. “Smart Cars” are all the rage, and they connect to the internet. You get Bluetooth, navigation, hands-free calling, live-streaming, and much more. In fact, if you have a fairly new car, yourself, you probably already have some access to these features. You probably connect your devices to your car, too, so that you can stream music, text, make phone calls, etc. This is no issue because it’s your own car, and only you and your family are using it.

Now, think of this. You have your devices, you are on vacation, and you have a rental car. So, you connect, just as you do at home. But what you don’t realize is that your personal information is now on the car, and the next person who rents it might be able to access it.

I travel a lot, and I rent a lot of cars. There has not been one car that I can think of that hasn’t had information about previous renters in it, and that’s pretty scary. I could even access their address book information in some cases.

Even if all you want to do is listen to Pandora or something, connecting to the rental car might still store data onto the car, including where you are driving. This might not seem like a huge deal if you are on vacation, but what if you have a rental car at home? The person who rents the car next can access your home address, your workplace, where you shop, etc.

The vehicle can also store your phone number and your text logs, too. Again, this can get into the hands of the wrong people unless you know how to delete them.

As you can see, there is more to auto safety than simply putting on your seat belt and refraining from texting and driving. If you are connecting to a smart car, the person who drives it next could learn so much from you; information that you certainly don’t want people to know.

Do This, Not That 

Here are some tips you can use the next time you rent a car:

  • Don’t use the USB port on a rental car to charge your phone. It can transfer data to the car. Instead, buy a cheap adapter and use the cigarette lighter.
  • Check up on the permission settings of your devices. If the infotainment system allows you to choose what is sent, only give access to things that are necessary.
  • Before you turn the car on, make sure to delete your phone from the car’s system.

Will your identity get stolen as soon as you connect your phone to a smart rental car? Probably not, but by connecting it and not deleting the data, you could run into some security and privacy issues down the road, including identity theft. Be smart, and don’t put yourself in a situation where someone else might get access to your personal information.

Everything Else

Some thieves specialize in hanging around tourist spots to spot the tourists and make them victims of hands-on crimes such as purse snatching or a mugging. But don’t wait till you’re aimlessly wandering the piazza with your face buried in a huge map to take precautions against less violent forms of crime.

  1. Before traveling, make copies of your driver’s license, medical insurance card, etc., and give these to a trusted adult. Have another set of copies in your home. Scan them and email them to yourself.
  2. Never post your travel plans on social media until you return. You never know who’s reading about you.
  3. Before departing from home, make sure your credit card company and bank know of your travel plans.
  4. Clear your smartphone or other devices of personal data that’s not essential for your trip.
  5. Travel on a light wallet. Take two credit cards with you in case one is lost or stolen. Have with you the phone numbers for your bank and credit card company, just in case.
  6. Avoid using Wi-Fi in coffee houses, airports, and other public areas other than just catching up on the news. Use a VPN. Google it.
  7. When traveling internationally, read up on the safety of food and water and get whatever shots you may need.
  8. Never give your credit card number to the hotel staff (or at least, anyone identifying themselves as hotel staff) over the phone in your hotel room. The call could be coming from a thief posing as hotel staff telling you they need your number again.
  9. Never leave anything out in your hotel room that reveals personal information, such as a credit card receipt, passport, checkbook, medical insurance card, etc. If the room does not have a safe, then have these items on you at all times.
  10. Use only an ATM that’s inside a bank, never a free-standing one outdoors somewhere. Cover the keypad with your other hand as you enter the PIN to thwart ATM skimmers.

Written by Robert Siciliano, CEO of Credit Parent, Head of Training & Security Awareness Expert at Protect Now, #1 Best Selling Amazon author, Media Personality & Architect of CSI Protection Certification.

Survival Tips When You are Lost in the Woods

It’s that time of the year again. And getting lost in the woods is NOT fun and sometimes deadly. But you have a chance if you are lucky and have a clue. A hiker from Hawaii, was found alive after being lost in the wilderness for 17 days. Though it might not seem likely that it could happen to you, it could really happen to anyone. So, it’s important that you know what you should do if you get lost in the woods. The Hawaii did a lot right, according to sources, and it saved her life. She was able to find fruit, like berries and guava, and only drank water when she could see that it was absolutely clear. On top of that, though she got a terrible sunburn and hurt her knee, she was able to nurse herself back to relative health.

If you are injured or lost, it is imperative that you know how to survive in the woods. Most people don’t understand that even though you should be waiting to be rescued, you have to keep yourself alive, too.

Here are some tips to help you survive if something has you lost in the wilderness:

First, Stop and Breathe

As soon as you realize that you are lost, remember to stop…and to STOP. This is a mnemonic term meaning:

  • Stop – stay where you are, sit down, and don’t panic.
  • Think – what the right thing to do might be depends on your situation and location. According to the US Forest Service, it is best to stay where you are until you absolutely need to move.
  • Observe – Look around and try to get some information about where you are. Think about supplies you might have like a map or a compass. Are there any signs that you are near a trail or an intersection?
  • Plan – Finally, make a plan about what your next course of action will be. You may want to move forward, you might want to backtrack, or you might think it’s best to stay right where you are.

Think Ahead

Now that your realize you are lost, it’s too late to make a plan on how not to get lost. However, since it’s very likely that you are not currently lost, (and if you are, and reading this, stop and call 911) take some time to consider the following:

  • Always tell people where you are going. If you are going on a hike, for instance, tell a friend or family member where you are planning on going.
  • Bring essential survival gear like sunscreen, bug spray, first-aid supplies, a flashlight, and even an emergency shelter.
  • Do everything you can to make sure you can communicate if you have an emergency. Go out with a fully charged cell phone, and if you can, bring a backup battery. If you go deep out into the wilderness, consider an emergency GPS beacon, too.

Understand How the Rescue Process Works

If you do need to be rescued, you should understand how the process works. Most people think it’s like the movies. Your loved ones call the police, and they immediately start to search. However, that’s not really the case.

Most often, the cops get a call from the person who is reporting you missing. They will then start gathering information as a lot of people simply run off.

If they do believe that you might be lost, only then will they start looking. If you have used your cell phone, they can try to use cell towers to pick up a signal. They can do that even if your phone is turned off. Authorities will also get a description of you, including where you might be and what you wore.

The good news is this: approximately 97 percent of those who get lost are eventually recovered within 24 hours of going missing. However, the odds of a better outcome go down the longer you are out there. So, make sure you are well-prepared.

Written by Robert Siciliano, CEO of Credit Parent, Head of Training & Security Awareness Expert at Protect Now, #1 Best Selling Amazon author, Media Personality & Architect of CSI Protection Certification.

Is Your Uber Driver a Criminal?

Do you ever Uber? If you do, you probably feel relatively safe when getting into a stranger’s car. However, you might not be as safe as it seems.

Most people believe that Uber does thorough background checks on its drivers, but that’s not totally the case. Recently, there have been a number of cases where Uber drivers, who have been accused of crimes when on the job, actually have a record and several run-ins with the cops.

Simply doing a quick Google search for “rideshare assault” provides way too many search results of recent stories of sexual assaults and otherwise, perpetrated by drivers. There’s simply no shortage of predators behind the wheel.

In South Carolina a college student got into a car she thought was her Uber, police say. She was found dead in a field. I was asked to discuss this on CNN. When you watch the video on rideshare murder, you will clearly see how upset I was, and frankly, still am.

CNN took a look at Uber, and its competitor, Lyft, and the report found that both of these companies approved the hire of thousands of drivers who have records. Uber did respond to this report, and it says that it knows that there were some hiring mistakes previously, but the company has worked hard to improve the way it hires. In 2017, the company claims, it rejected over 200,000 applicants because of issues found during a background check.

A number of state and local law enforcement organizations have pushed the ride-sharing companies to put more of a focus on who they are hiring. Right now, for example, they don’t fingerprint applicants, nor do they do any type of Federal background checks. Instead, Lyft and Uber both use third-party background check companies. It uses the Social Security number and name of potential drivers to check the national sex offender database, terrorist databases, and local court records. The goal is to get people on the road quickly, so not a ton of time is spent on this.

At this point in time, there are over 40 states that require screening for ridesharing services. But these laws don’t require the companies to screen in a certain way or to use a specific company. Instead, 42 states allow rideshare companies to take this on by themselves. Massachusetts is one state the requires an additional check in addition to the regular background check, and New York City requires that all drivers for ridesharing companies get their fingerprints taken.

It is also important to mention that just because a company does finger printing along with background checks, this isn’t foolproof. The FBI system that is accessed actually has an incomplete record system, and it really isn’t meant to be used like this.

If you use Uber, keep all of this on your mind before you take your next ride. Yes, there is a simple background check that is done, but that doesn’t mean your Uber driver isn’t a criminal.

Written by Robert Siciliano, CEO of Credit Parent, Head of Training & Security Awareness Expert at Protect Now, #1 Best Selling Amazon author, Media Personality & Architect of CSI Protection Certification.

The First Step to Secure Your Data

Your personal information and data are literally everywhere for criminals to target, and there isn’t much you can do to keep it from spreading. You use your email credentials on countless websites, you use your credit card number with countless vendors, and, believe it or not, your Social Security number is shared rapidly immediately after you’re born.

It’s almost impossible to give out your personal information nowadays. However, criminals know this, and they lurk around the same places that your information is used. You need to take action to secure your information so you are less of a target. Let me show you one simple step you can take today that will create one layer of security and improve your defenses.

There is one specific action you can take to secure your information, and after you do it, you’ll be much less likely to be targeted because criminals tend to take the path of least resistance. That said, if you DON’T do this action today, you ARE the path of least resistance.

All you have to do is set up a credit freeze. There are four major credit bureaus in the United States, and you need to get a credit freeze with them. Just use your preferred search engine and look for Experian credit freeze, Equifax credit freeze, TransUnion credit freeze, and Innovis credit freeze. You should freeze your credit with all four, but you should still review your annual credit reports. More importantly, you should dispute discrepancies with the appropriate bureau AND the lender. Getting a credit freeze won’t gum up your credit score or make it so you can’t use credit. You are able to “thaw” the frozen credit as needed and then freeze it again. You can literally do this in a single day. Then you’ll want to put more layers of defense in place to become an even harder target than the other guy.

A credit freeze will secure your information, but setting up multiple layers of defenses is really what will make you a hard target. Criminals are constantly probing defenses, and even while technology advances, crimes against your data are usually ahead of the curve. You don’t need to know everything about security, but you do need to take on the responsibility of protecting yourself. I’ve created a free guide that will make you a pseudo expert on your own security, and if you follow it’s simple steps, you will have more layers of defense than the average person. If you want to create even more layers of defenses, bring this guide to my next webinar, and I will walk you through each step so you can rest assured that you are creating a smart, secure, safer “me.”

It Should Be Illegal for Teen Girls to Give Rides to Strangers

https://safr.me/webinar/  | Robert Siciliano is the #1 Security Expert in the United States with over 25 years of experience! He is here to help you become more aware of the risks and strategies to help protect yourself, your family, your business, and your entire life. Robert brings identity theft, personal security, fraud prevention and cyber security to light so that criminals can no longer hide in the dark. You need to be smarter than criminals yesterday so that they don’t take advantage of you today! If you would like to learn more about Security Awareness, then sign up for Robert’s latest webinar!

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If only. But that’ll never be.

Brandi Hicks, 17, and her high school friend, Liz Reiser, exited a video store at 9:30 pm, where they were approached by Matthew Vaca, a creepy acting stranger.

He asked them for a ride to his house. At first they refused, but then he offered $20 for gas. The ID Channel re-enactment portrayed Vaca as stating that his home was “just down the road,” that he had been “walking all day,” and that he wanted to get home before his kids went to bed.

The girls were sold and told him to get into the backseat.

What Brandi, the driver, should have done: Refused, possibly gone back into the store (with Liz) until Matthew left, or possibly asking the store manager to call the police.

The “down the road” seemed nowhere in sight as Matthew told Brandi to keep driving. Then he told her to pull over. He got out, during which the girls really began feeling fearful, discussing whether or not they should just leave him.

What Brandi should have done: Left him.

But Matthew got back into the car, and shortly after, threatened her with a gun, directing her to take the car into a wooded area.

He ordered both out, took Brandi’s shoelaces and bound her to the steering wheel, then ordered Liz to go off with him, eventually stabbing her to death.

He returned for Brandi, untied her and led her away, beating her, then using a shoelace to strangle her (it’s not known why he didn’t have the knife).

What Brandi should have done during the strangulation: Play dead.

What Brandi did: Play dead!

Faking death, she was pushed into a nearby river, and somehow while Matthew loitered nearby for an hour, pretended to be dead while floating in the water.

Once he was gone, she climbed to land and flagged down the first car she saw, which was a police officer’s.

We need to track back to the beginning, because once in the woods, victims don’t have too many options unless they are trained in self-defense tactics.

If you’re ever tempted to give a stranger a ride because he’s giving a story (“I’ve been on my feet all day”), remind yourself of some facts:

  • If he’s able-bodied and lives “down the road,” he doesn’t need ANY ride.
  • If he appears injured or sick, call him a cab, especially if he has $20.
  • If you refuse him a ride, what’s the worst that could happen to him if he’s truly harmless? Aching feet.

Bottom line: Under NO circumstances give a stranger, including a female, a ride. If she looks pregnant, she could be using pillows. Women, too, can be vicious.

Matthew Vaca will die in prison.

Robert Siciliano personal security and identity theft expert and speaker is the author of Identity Theft Privacy: Security Protection and Fraud Prevention: Your Guide to Protecting Yourself from Identity Theft and Computer Fraud. See him knock’em dead in this Security Awareness Training video.

Half of American Adults on FBIs Biometric Database

Here’s a bit of a shock for you: about half of all adult Americans have a photograph stored in the FBI facial recognition database. What’s even more shocking, it is that these photos are being stored without the consent of the individuals. Approximately 80 percent of the photos the FBI has are of non-criminals, and might take the form of passport or driver’s license photos. Furthermore, there is a 15 percent rate of inaccuracy when matching photos to individuals, and black people are more likely to be misidentified than white people.

You can’t deny that this technology is very powerful for law enforcement, but it can also be used for things like stalking or harassment. There is also the fact that this technology allows almost anyone to scan anyone else. There are no laws controlling it, either.

If you think that’s scary, consider this: The technology to do this has been used since around 2010, and the FBI never informed the public, nor did they file a privacy impact assessment, which is required, for five years. Where is the FBI getting this information? From the states.

Basically, the FBI made arrangements with 18 different states, which gives them access to driver’s license photos. People are not made aware that the FBI has this access, nor are they informed that law enforcement from across the country can access this information.

Just last year, the GAO, which is the US government accountability office, took a look how the FBI is using facial recognition and found that it was lacking accuracy, accountability, and oversight. They also found that there was no test for a false positive nor racial bias.

What’s even more interesting is that several companies that develop this technology admit that it should be more tightly controlled and regulated. For instance, one such company, and the CEO, has said that he is “not comfortable” with this lack of regulation, and that the algorithms that are used commercially are much more accurate than what the FBI has. But, many of these companies are not willing to work with the government. Why? Because they have concerns about using it for biometric surveillance.

Robert Siciliano personal security and identity theft expert and speaker is the author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Identity Was Stolen. See him knock’em dead in this identity theft prevention video.

Study Shows Millennials Choose Convenience Over Security

To those of us consider Tom Cruise the movie star of our day or even Grunge as the music we grew up with, looking at millennials, and the way they view life, is fascinating. These “kids” or young adults, many are brilliant. They really do define “disruption”.

However, that doesn’t mean that this tech savvy generation is always right. In fact, a new study shows just the opposite when it comes to internet safety. Though, they can also teach us a few things and are definitely up to speed on the value of “authentication” (which leads to accountability).

Anyway…South by Southwest, or SXSW, is a festival and conference that is held each year in Austin, TX. This year, a survey was done with some good AND scary results. The company that did the survey, SureID, found that 83% of millennials that were asked believed that convenience is more important than safety. That’s not good. But this is not the only interesting finding, however. On a positive note, the study also found the following:

  • About 96% want to have the ability to verify their identity online, which would ensure it was safe from hackers.
  • About 60% put more value on time than they do their money or safety.
  • 79% are less likely to buy something from a person who can’t prove their identity.
  • 70% feel more comfortable interacting with a person online if they can verify that other person’s identity.
  • 91% say they believe that companies “definitely” or “maybe” do background checks on those who work for them. These include on-demand food delivery and ridesharing. However, most companies do not do this.

What does this information tell us? It says that we are very close to seeing a shift in the way millennials are viewing their identities, as well as how they view the people and businesses they interact with.

Millennials have a need to want to better verify another person’s identity. To support this, just look at dating apps. Approximately 88% of people using them find the idea of verifying the identity of the people they might see offsite as appealing. It’s similar with ride sharing, where about 75% of millennials want to know, without a doubt, who is driving them around.

We live in a world today that is more connected than ever before. These days, as much as 30% of the population is working as freelancers, or in another type of independent work. In many cases, this work is evolving from small gigs to large and efficient marketplaces. Thus, the need for extra security and transparency is extremely important. Sometimes, technology helps us act too comfortably with people we don’t really know, and the study shows that having people prove whom they are will help to create higher levels of trust.

Robert Siciliano personal security and identity theft expert and speaker is the author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Identity Was Stolen. See him knock’em dead in this identity theft prevention video.

Thieves steal 30 Cars using Software

Who needs a hanger to steal a car when you can use a laptop? Despite today’s vehicles having far more sophisticated security protection, thieves can still break in—like the two crooks who stole at least 30 Dodge and Jeep vehicles…with just a laptop computer.

11DIn Houston, video showed the pair in the act, though authorities are still working on piecing together just how the capers were pulled off.

One possibility is that a database contains codes that link key fobs to cars. Perhaps the thieves, who may be part of a ring, somehow got access to this database (one theory is that a crooked employee sold them the access), and from there, created key fobs based on vehicle ID numbers. VINs are visible on vehicles. Vehicles that are targeted for theft don’t “know” an authentic fob from a fraudulent one.

Again, this is all conjecture, but one thing’s for sure: The pair did not steal the vehicles the old-fashioned way.

Though today’s electronic security measures will stop the thief who lacks techy know-how and prefers the coat hanger and hotwire method, technology won’t stop smarter, more ingenious crooks who feel quite at home committing cyber based crimes.

With more and more criminals relying on the Internet of Things to commit all sorts of crimes, maybe the best security for a motor vehicle would indeed be one of the old-fashioned security features: install a kill switch.

Robert Siciliano, personal security and identity theft expert and speaker is the author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Identity Was Stolen. See him knock’em dead in this identity theft prevention video.

What age is it OK to leave Kids home alone?

Sooner or later, you’ll need to leave your child home—unsupervised, alone—for an extended period. And even though you may have smart devices to keep a constant check on your child, this doesn’t mean you can instantly teleport home in the event your smart security system relays a realtime video of a kitchen fire.

12DIt’s one of the toughest challenges facing parents: At what age can they leave a child home alone without breaking the law, without endangering that child? Even if your child is older than the minimum age to be legally left alone, this doesn’t mean they’re ready to face this new chapter.

  • A very emotionally mature, 10-year-old child may be very small for their age, and a crook passing by the house may peer in and think that a seven-year-old is all alone inside—making a break-in tempting.
  • An eight-year-old may be the size of an 11-year-old, which could fool a prowler peering in, but having the mind of an eight-year-old won’t help in a crisis situation.
  • Your feisty but responsible nine-year-old may be begging to be left home alone, have passed a first-aid test and be a junior blackbelt.
  • Or, your skittish 13-year-old may be very bright, but…to put it succinctly, be a scaredy cat.
  • Is the neighborhood popular with burglars?
  • Is the child sick?

Laws are ambiguous. Just what is “adequate supervision” anyways? And is it redefined with different ages? Obviously, you don’t want to leave a nine-year-old alone for even one hour with the new, 95-pound rescue dog, or leave a young child home during a storm. A 12-year-old may seem old enough to be left home alone for a few hours, but not in charge of his two-year-old sibling.

The various U.S. states do not have clear explanations; it’s up to the parent to interpret each circumstance. And only three states specify the minimum age: Maryland is eight; Oregon is 10; and Illinois is 14 … even though many girls begin babysitting late into the night at age 11.

Robert Siciliano personal security and identity theft expert and speaker is the author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Identity Was Stolen. See him knock’em dead in this identity theft prevention video.