Social media platforms are coming under increased scrutiny, when it comes to putting safeguards in place to protect children who use social media sites. However, research conducted by Censuswide on behalf of Equifax, the consumer data information expert, reveals that 30% of children aged between 8 and 16 years old use chat rooms and online forums, raising concerns about who they are talking to and the type of information they are sharing.
According to the latest research from Cifas, the UK’s leading fraud prevention service, there was a 27% growth in 14 to 24 year olds becoming money mules. Chat rooms are an ideal place for criminals to recruit young people, offering them payment in exchange for allowing their bank accounts to be used to move illegal funds.
The threat of fraudsters to young people doesn’t just relate to money mules. Identity thieves can also gather a lot of data about someone from photos and posts. Sharing these without the proper security settings in place can make it easier for fraudsters to steal identities.
The Equifax-commissioned research also revealed 10% of children (aged 8-16 years old) share their date of birth online, according to themselves and/or their parents. In addition, 20% share where and when they are going on holiday. 36% share images of family members and 49% share pictures of themselves.
“Children as young as 8 years old are sharing personal information, even though social media sites have an age restriction of at least 13 years old,” comments Lisa Hardstaff, ID fraud expert at Equifax.
“It is encouraging to see organisations like Cifas are helping schools recognise the dangers by introducing students to the concept of fraud and the importance of digital literacy and data protection within the context of financial risk. But a lot more needs to be done by Government and social media providers to protect children from online predators.”
Cifas is helping young people understand the effects of financial crime using a 4 point lesson plan. This teaches them to:
• recognise what fraud is, why they may be targeted and how to seek support
• explain the consequences of committing fraud
• develop skills to protect their online information and personal data
• develop skills to critically evaluate the reliability of online content in relation to scams.