Children are putting their data at risk on social media sites

Equifax research reveals children as young as 8 are using chat rooms and urges parents to be more vigilant as half-term looms

Social media platforms are coming under increased scrutiny, when it comes to putting safeguards in place to protect children who use social media sites1. However, research conducted by Censuswide2 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 Cifas3, 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 research4 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.

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

To find out more on how to safeguard your child’s identity and personal information on video games visit the Equifax knowledge centre:


2 Study commissioned by Equifax conducted by Censuswide which surveyed 1,001 parents and children aged 8-16 years old - 09.01.2018 - 11.01.2018


4 Study commissioned by Equifax conducted by Censuswide which surveyed 1,001 parents and children aged 8-16 years old - 09.01.2018 - 11.01.2018


For further press information, please contact: Clare Watson, Cecile Stearn, Parm Heer or Wendy Harrison at HSL on 020 8977 9132 / Fax: 020 8977 5200 or Email:

About Equifax

Equifax Inc. (Equifax) is a global information solutions company that uses unique data, innovative analytics, technology and industry expertise to power organizations and individuals around the world by transforming knowledge into insights that help make more informed business and personal decisions.

Headquartered in Atlanta, Ga., Equifax operates or has investments in 24 countries in North America, Central and South America, Europe and the Asia Pacific region. It is a member of Standard & Poor's (S&P) 500® Index, and its common stock is traded on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) under the symbol EFX. Equifax employs 10,400 employees worldwide.

Equifax Limited is one of the Equifax group companies based in the UK.

Equifax Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.