While data breaches put millions at risk each year, it’s easy to forget about some of the most vulnerable victims – children – who often don’t have the resources to protect their identities when their sensitive information is stolen.
A recent Javelin Strategies study found that more than a million children were affected by identity fraud which resulted in $2.6 billion in fraud with families paying over $540 million out of pocket.
During this same period, 11 percent of households had at least one minor’s information compromised in a breach with in some instances, the breach proving far more dangerous for then children than for adults. Children are more likely to have their information compromised in breaches compared to adults with 39 percent of children who had been notified of a breach became a victim or fraud compared to just 19 percent of notified adults.
Researchers pointed out that children are often targeted because children are offer “blank slate” identities with limited financial histories giving fraudsters the ability to establish and slowly develop networks of accounts over time, mimicking legitimate accounts, before tapping them.
The majority of child victims, 66 percent, are under the age of 8 followed by children between 8 and 12, 20 percent, and children age 13 to 17 who accounting for 14 percent of child victims. Not all of these children became victims of identity fraud as the result of a breach.
More than half of child identity fraud victims personally knew the perpetrator and many of the perpetrators had legitimate access to the victim’s personal information. These cases are unfortunately difficult to prevent as the perpetrators are often family friends, step-parents, or someone working in the home often carried out the crimes.
There are however, some steps which can be taken to prevent fraud. Researchers recommend parents begin teaching children at an early age how to protect their data and properly manage their online activity.
Parents should also pay special attention to children who are bullied as they may be more vulnerable to online attacks looking to take advantage of people seeking friendship online. In addition, parents should frequently check their children’s credit and freeze their credit if possible as new account fraud is one of the most prevalent way’s people take advantage of stolen data.
Parents should also actively monitor existing accounts, keep physical documents secure, and take breach notifications and other correspondence seriously