The number of U.S. families affected by child identity fraud over the past year (July 2021 to July 2022) saw a healthy decline, from 1.25 million children who fell victim to ID fraud to only 915,000—a strong and positive message for financial institutions, identity protection services, and law enforcement. But don’t be fooled; that’s only a fraction of the story, as Javelin Strategy & Research’s latest data around child ID theft and fraud shows that parents and guardians continue to put their families and children at increasing risk by not taking seriously the threats posed by social media and unrestricted internet access. This year, Javelin found that more children experienced the exposure of their personal information in a breach, use of social media among minors continues to climb, and children under the age of 7 are the most likely to be victimized by ID theft and subsequent ID fraud. And the risks go beyond fraud, as physical, psychological, and emotional dangers and stressors are only accelerated when parents/guardians fail to restrict online and social media access when children are at a young age.
Now in its second year, Javelin Strategy & Research’s Child Identity Fraud Study is published as a complimentary resource available to the general public. Child ID fraud is extremely underreported and misunderstood, and Javelin’s goal is to help consumers understand how they can best protect themselves and their children. What’s more, Javelin wants to provide resources and education to financial institutions, law enforcement, government agencies, and early educational institutions about steps they can and should take to educate consumers about the risks surrounding child ID theft and fraud and how to mitigate them. Javelin believes long strides can be made as these industries work together. And as more states, such as California, and even the federal government start paying more attention to the risks children face in a digital age, the more incentives every industry will have to make investments in technologies and campaigns that curb, and hopefully someday bring an end to, child ID theft and fraud.
Key questions discussed in this report:
- Why children under the age of 7 are so vulnerable, and how are parents/guardians making it too easy for criminals to compromise their children?
- How does a strong banking relationship help parents/guardians when a child falls victim to identity fraud?
- What more should banks, credit unions, insurers, ID protection services, government, and law enforcement do to raise awareness about social media risks and their links to ID theft?
- Why should the link between child extortion and cyberbullying to social media use be extremely concerning to parents, guardians, and educators?
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