Warning: Predators Want You To Post Your Child’s Back-to-School Photo
Police say those innocent 'First Day of School' photos have unwittingly become an information goldmine for bad actors.
The Oneida County Sheriff's Office issued a chilling warning to parents with kids finally heading back to the classroom after a long summer vacation. While moms and dads may want to celebrate the moment with a commemorative photo, police say don't share it online.
Instead, local authorities are urging parents to exercise restraint and avoid spamming their socials with back to school photos - especially if it contains a "First Day of School" sign that reveals any sensitive information.
In a public plea to parents, the Oneida County Sheriff's Office said it's best to stop publicly posting those sentimental signs.
"Think before you share!"
That is the official word from local authorities. Although these signs have become a popular way to celebrate the end of summer vacation, police need parents to think clearly about the potential consequences.
There are certain dangers to oversharing, and police warned bad actors will absolutely weaponize whatever they can glean from such photos.
On Facebook, the county sheriff warned:
As you document your child's First Day of School with signs, remember to prioritize safety and be sure not to expose all of your child's information on social media. Remove or block out personal information to help keep your child safe.
The last thing anyone wants is for a celebratory photo to put an innocent kid's life at risk.
What not to publicly share
Multiple officials demonstrated the types of signs that could put a child in jeopardy. They say information that should absolutely not be shared is the child's full name, age, height, weight, grade, and other features parents wouldn't want a predator to know.
Authorities also warned against sharing the name of a child's teacher, school bus number, graduating class, and even a child's interests such as future goals or favorite color.
Additionally, police strongly encouraged parents to avoid publicly sharing photos that show one's house number - especially if a location is tagged.
Police warned that data provides incredible ammo to bad actors.
In all, while personalized back-to-school signs are adorable and may look great on one's social media, they open too many doors that lead to unintended consequences.
Even the smallest amount of information unknowingly provided to scammers and predators can be used to endanger a child, family members, or their finances.
Police strongly encourage everyone - regardless of age - to minimize what personal information is shared on the internet. Instead, officials say it's best parents use a "less is more" approach when talking about their child online.
What many parents might not realize is, they could be putting their own information at risk when sharing stories or photos of their child.
Experts say scammers are always combing the internet for password tips to gain access to important information. Apparently, parents commonly use their own child's name in their login information.
That aside, the main concern is how predators weaponize a child's personal information to get close to them. While it is always important to teach children the importance of stranger danger, parents should never underestimate how convincing some criminals can be.
With enough plausible information, which can easily be gleaned by these back-to-school signs, a criminal can easily convince a child that they're a trustworthy person.
The sad thing is, we're living in a very different world than the one we grew up in because crime has gotten smarter thanks to the internet. It's tragic that a movement as innocent as celebrating a child's milestone has been warped by bad actors.
In all, if you have taken such a photo that reveals personal things about your child, don't post it online - or at least redact the information that can possibly used against you or your family.
And if you have posted such a photo, delete it - or at least replace it with an edited version that protects your child's privacy.