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Children spend millions in unauthorised spree

17th December 2010 Print

Children are spending £64 million online a year without their parents’ knowledge, putting the adults at risk of card fraud.

A new study commissioned by life assistance company CPP reveals that one in seven online purchases made by British kids aged 7-16 are done behind their mums and dads’ back.

Two thirds of kids are now hitting the cyber streets, annually spending £448 million and eight in ten use their parents’ bank cards, online accounts and paypal.  It is time that parents woke up to the risks of letting their children shop unsupervised on the internet.  With three quarters of children not checking the security of websites when shopping online, CPP is warning parents to keep a close eye on their children, otherwise they could risk their card details being misused by internet fraudsters.

The peak of spending is set to increase during the Christmas period as a quarter of kids say they will or plan to buy presents online, a 10 per cent increase on kids online Christmas purchases last year potentially putting even more parents at risk of card fraud.

Sarah Blaney, card fraud expert from CPP said: “Parents need to educate their children about of the very real risks of shopping online. They need to ensure that their children only put sensitive information into sites that are encrypted, trusted and secure and teach them about what signs to look for in a safe site.

“It’s clear that online fraud is a serious problem in the UK with card-not-present fraud accounting for over £260 million in 2009. On a wider level consumers need to be responsible and take preventative steps to safeguard their sensitive information. In particular, signing up to MasterCard’s SecureCode or Verified by Visa is a useful way of preventing fraudulent transactions”.

The research also found that children are buying a range of items, including; computer games (51 per cent), books (42 per cent), films (30 per cent) and phone applications (18 per cent).

Unsupervised access to the internet can lead to other issues in addition to the risk of fraud. For example, nearly a quarter of children have bought a video game or film that is for an older age and a handful of children claimed to have purchased cigarettes (one per cent),  alcohol (one per cent) and even weapons and solvents (one per cent).

CPP is working to raise awareness of the dangers of card fraud. CPP’s Card Protection policy insures all credit and debit cards from fraudulent use if they are lost or stolen.