Young people are putting their data at risk on social media sites

  • Emma Finamore
  • 30 May 2018

New research reveals children as young as eight are using chat rooms and says parents need to be more aware of the issues.

Identity thieves use social media photos and posts to commit fraud.

Social media platforms are coming under increased scrutiny when it comes to putting safeguards in place to protect young people who use social media sites. However, recent research shows that 30% of children aged between eight 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 – a fraud prevention service – there has been 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. 

But the threat doesn’t end there. 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 research also revealed 10% of children (aged 8-16 years old) share their date of birth online, with 20% sharing where and when they are going on holiday. 36% share images of family members and 49% share pictures of themselves. 


There has been a 27% growth in 14 to 24 year olds becoming money mules, and identity thieves use social media photos and posts to commit fraud.

“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,” said 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 four 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 evaluate the reliability of online content in relation to scams

To find out more about the anti-fraud education in schools visit the Cifas website.


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