(San Francisco, CA) Javelin Strategy & Research today released its report, Child ID Theft: Social Cyber Risks and the Persistent Threat to Families. The report finds that children active on social media are at the greatest risk of being targeted for scams and having their identities stolen or compromised. These children are also at increased risk of being cyberbullied, making them more likely to be victimized by fraud, which then puts their extended families and networks at risk.
This year’s complimentary report, supported by TransUnion, Equifax, and Savvy Cyber Kids, notes a direct link between household affluence, social media presence, cyberbullying and a child’s likelihood of being targeted for and by a scam. Children from higher-income families are more likely to have access to multiple devices and are more likely to engage with strangers online for game purchases, just as an example. This increased access to the internet makes children in high-income households the most likely to have their personal information compromised as part of a data breach and/or to be targeted by a scam. What’s more, children from affluent households are also most likely to be victims of cyberbullying and extortion.
“The extreme risks children face online are largely overlooked by parents and guardians, despite mounting pressure for social media companies to implement additional practices that guard children’s privacy,” said Tracy Kitten, director of the Fraud & Security Practice at Javelin. “Lenient attitudes around social media use are creating an easy entry point for criminals to target children.”
Children are often secretive and protective about their use of social media, especially if they are or have been victimized by cyberbullying. This results in major risk for themselves and their families. Social media monitoring, which scans children’s social media accounts for illicit or suspicious activity, is one reliable way parents and guardians can detect potential cyber-risks a child might face. Such monitoring, often provided through identity protection services (IDPS), is sadly underused by most U.S. households with children. Nearly half of households impacted by child identity fraud saw their children’s social media accounts taken over as part of the fraud incident.
Consumers’ perception of the value of full-family IDPS coverage still wanes. When asked why they did not include children in their coverage, 61% of consumers either did not think about adding a child or do not believe their child is likely to be victimized by identity theft or fraud.
And it’s not just social media that acts as an access point to children. The misuse of peer-to-peer (P2P) payments accounts (Venmo, Zelle, PayPal, etc.) by children can adversely affect households. Children younger than 16 typically use a parent or guardian’s account to set up and make payments with these types of solutions.
“When takeover, misuse, or fraud results, it has an adverse financial effect on not just the child but also the family,” Kitten said. “Most families are not being proactive enough when it comes to anticipating and addressing the risks their children face in the digital age. Consumers also fail to recognize the risk children within their households pose for the entire family.”
This report was made possible by our sponsors and partners, TransUnion, Equifax and Savvy Cyber Kids. TransUnion is a global information and insights company which makes trust possible by ensuring each person is reliably represented in the marketplace through innovative solutions that extend beyond their strong foundation in core credit into areas such as marketing, fraud, risk and advanced analytics. Equifax is a global data, analytics, and technology company, which plays an essential role in the global economy by helping financial institutions, companies, employers, and government agencies make critical decisions with greater confidence. Savvy Cyber Kids is a non-profit organization that educates parents, guardians, educators and children about how children’s identities and development are adversely affected by unrestricted internet access and use.
A complimentary copy of the Child ID Theft: Social Cyber Risks and the Persistent Threat to Families report can be found at javelinstrategy.com.
About Javelin Strategy & Research
Javelin Strategy & Research, part of the Escalent family, helps its clients make informed decisions in a digital financial world. It provides strategic insights to financial institutions including banks, credit unions, brokerages and insurers, as well as payments companies, technology providers, fintechs and government agencies. Javelin’s independent insights result from a rigorous research process that assesses consumers, businesses, providers, and the transactions ecosystem. It conducts in-depth primary research studies to pinpoint dynamic risks and opportunities in digital banking, payments, fraud & security, lending, and wealth management. Learn more at javelinstrategy.com.