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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

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