Web service hacks are increasingly common, but in most cases a quick password change and monitoring your credit status should ensure no foul play. However, the recent hack of VTech's servers has exposed potentially the names, birth dates, details and even some photos of British children. This stems from VTech's range of connected toys that store data online for KidConnect and PlanetVTech services, including parents' email addresses, postal addresses and other details.
This has created a situation that is ideal for identity theft, fraud and other risks. Some 6.4 million child accounts have been stolen, according to the company, with around 750,000 in the UK affected. VTech sells junior tablet computers, smart watches, cameras, digital books and other toys, some of which store data online.
On the positive side, no credit card data was among the stolen data. However, with these databases now being sold to criminals, using a child's name and birth date is enough to get identity fraudsters working away on creating fake identities for dodgy credit and identification. In a worst case scenario, paedophiles could search the profile photos of children and potentially learn where they live.
The key lesson here is to never give away accurate details about your children for any online service, even if it's just to get free sweets or goodies from a major company's Facebook page or for playing child-friendly online games. Always use nicknames, never use a real photo and only provide vague location information.
As for the adults, keep monitoring your credit history to ensure no one is trying to use your identity to acquire credit cards or loans in your name, and if your child has their own email account, check it regularly to ensure no one is trying to get in touch with them.
If you are seriously worried about your personal situation, get in touch with a private investigator. They can help investigate any concerns you have. VTech customers might also want to consult a solicitor as the impact of this hack becomes clear, and their failure to adequately protect information on minors could have serious repercussions for the company.