Have Cards, Will Travel

Child ID breaches rampant, usually caused by a familiar face

Sabrina Karl
Personal Finance Writer
Data whiz and visual storyteller


If you’ve ever been a victim of identity fraud, the thief was almost surely a stranger to you. But not so for children, as 6 in 10 victims last year had their identity stolen by someone they knew.

The finding comes from a new study by Javelin Strategy & Research, which quantifies that more than 1 million U.S. children were affected by identity fraud in 2017, representing almost 1.5 percent of American minors. Two-thirds of the child victims (66 percent) were age 7 or younger.

“Child identity fraud is a serious problem and is frequently overlooked as the public focuses on high-profile breaches involving the personally identifiable information of adults,” said Al Pascual, a senior vice president at Javelin Strategy & Research.

In sharp contrast to adults, child identity theft victims knew their perpetrator 60 percent of the time. For adults, familiarity with the thief accounted for only 7 percent of 2017’s incidents.

As for who these familiar fraudsters are, family friends were implicated in one-third of the child identity thefts by a known perpetrator (33 percent). Coming in at 18 percent was a child’s parent or a parent’s spouse. 

Across the U.S., 11 percent of households had at least one minor’s personal information compromised in a data breach in 2017, with almost 4 in 10 (39 percent) later becoming victims of fraud.

Javelin’s 2018 Child Identity Fraud Study drew on an online survey of 5,000 individuals, fielded in August and September 2017. Respondents either currently lived in a household with a dependent minor, or had lived with a dependent minor in the past six years. Results of the study were released April 24, 2018.

1 million children's ID data breached, usually by a familiar friend

See related: Familiar fraud: When friends, family steal your identity, More infographics

What’s up next?

In Have Cards, Will Travel

How to earn an exotic vacation at the grocery store

You can earn an exotic vacation by using the right credit card when you fill your shopping cart at the grocery store. Start with a goal, and use the card that will help you achieve it.

Published: May 5, 2018

See more stories
Credit Card Rate Report Updated: April 21st, 2019
Cash Back

Questions or comments?

Contact us

Editorial corrections policies

Learn more

Join the Discussion

We encourage an active and insightful conversation among our users. Please help us keep our community civil and respectful. For your safety, do not disclose confidential or personal information such as bank account numbers or social security numbers. Anything you post may be disclosed, published, transmitted or reused.

The editorial content on is not sponsored by any bank or credit card issuer. The journalists in the editorial department are separate from the company’s business operations. The comments posted below are not provided, reviewed or approved by any company mentioned in our editorial content. Additionally, any companies mentioned in the content do not assume responsibility to ensure that all posts and/or questions are answered.