Too much information: Could your children’s online behaviour leave them open to a scam?


Do you know if your child is at risk of a financial scam on social media?

More importantly, do they?

83% of 16-to-24-year olds know someone who gives away too much information about themselves online, according to a report from Nationwide.

And, while some of those may just be going into too much detail about their day-to-day lives, many are revealing details which could leave them open to fraud and scams.

What’s the issue?

20% of 16-25-year olds have had an online account hacked by a third party, while 11% have experienced financial loss through online scams. While it may not be the root cause of all security breaches, sharing personal information will account for some of those incidents.

What are young adults telling the world?

Social media, apps and the evolution of technology can make it easy for anybody to share too much about themselves, without realising it. For example, 16-25-year-olds have seen their friends and peers share their:

  • Current location (56%)
  • Holiday updates (50%)
  • Birthday (42%)
  • Images showing their place of work (38%)
  • Images of their school, college or university (37%)
  • Images showing the front door of their home (which could reveal their address) (24%)
  • Bank account details (6%)

While some of these are easily explainable, such as ‘checking in’ on Facebook, which will share your current location, others are simply dangerous, especially those which can be used to access finances, including bank details.

Unfortunately, it isn’t just bank details which can be used as part of a financial scam. Think about how many organisations ask for your date of birth or address during verification procedures. These are easily identifiable from social networking profiles and photographs taken near the home.

It’s not just the public-facing information

While it is important to audit the amount and type of information shared on personal profiles, a lot of important information can be stored in the back-end of programs. For instance, you will be able to see your own date of birth, payment information and address on many shopping websites. You could be forgiven for thinking that this information is safe here, and for the most part, it probably is. However, if you have your passwords saved in an accessible place, it might not be long before someone with harmful intentions can also see it.

According to the research:

  • 52% of 16-25-year olds have saved a password to their phone
  • 46% have written a password down on paper
  • 26% have their bank details saved to their internet browser
  • 18% have let someone else use their bank card and know the PIN
  • 17% have told passwords to their friends
  • 9% have sent a photo of their credit or debit card over social media, text message or messaging apps

Furthermore, if the login details for their online banking is easily accessible, proving that it has been taken through fraud can be difficult, making recouping that money virtually impossible.

What’s happening?

Hacking and fraud do not just affect the person whose data has been accessed, often it can spread to others they are connected with. That means, if their profile has been compromised, it may lead to their friends and family being affected as well. Furthermore, it also shows that, if your child’s data is accessed, it may not be down to their security habits, as their profile may have been accessed through fraudulent activity on their friend’s account.

16-25-year olds who have previously been hacked experienced:

  • Unusual activity on their account (77%)
  • Their personal details being changed without their permission (20%)
  • New contacts added to their profile (17%)
  • Their friend’s accounts also being accessed (11%)

So, if your own profile is at risk, it could lead to criminals accessing your loved one’s accounts and could result in fraud, such as their personal details being stolen, leading to identity theft, or money being stolen from their bank accounts.

How can I protect my children?

As they grow older, banning your kids from social media is unlikely to work, as much as it might make you feel better about their safety.

The best course of action is to make sure that they are equipped with the knowledge to keep themselves safe, and that they know what to do if they think their accounts may have been accessed without their permission.

To improve your child’s security, talk to them about:

  • Making their profiles private
  • Reviewing the information available and who can see it
  • Be mindful of the images they share
  • Understanding the danger of sharing bank and credit card information
  • Understand password security/unique passwords/not sharing them.
  • Changing passwords regularly
  • Reviewing activity and setting up additional security measures, such as text messages and phone notifications

If you have any queries contact Sarah or Bev on 0115 9338433.

If you have been hacked or think you may be a victim of fraud; contact Action Fraud.