It had to happen sometime. Santa’s longstanding Christmas conditioning whereby good behaviour earns presents has finally been toppled. Justin Schamotta, staff writer for Credit Card Comparison, looks at why kids need to education on the perils of credit card fruad.
A combination of nature’s most anarchic forces – namely, children and the internet – has resulted in a world where naughty boys and girls are able to use their parents’ credit cards to buy themselves Christmas presents online.
And why stop at Christmas? For too long have children been subject to the fickleness of Tooth Fairies, Easter Bunnies and the occasional birthday. With the right combination of stealth and parental ignorance, presents can be had all year round!
Indeed, British children are currently secretly spending £64 million every year as they bypass more traditional means of obtaining presents, according to a new study.
The research, carried out for the CPP life assistance company, revealed that one in every seven online purchases made by British kids aged 7-16 are made without their parents’ knowledge.
That may not sound like much, but it is. Some two thirds of children now shop online and spend a colossal £448 million every year. To do this, around 80% use their parents’ bank cards, PayPal and online accounts.
As many of us will concede, internet shopping can be addictive. It is hardly a child’s fault if all they need to do to buy something online is remember a single password.
From the children’s perspective, it’s the perfect crime. From their parents’ perspective, it’s an utter disaster.
As well as children’s general blasé attitude towards internet security, their unauthorized use of credit cards enables them to buy anything from alcohol, cigarettes, solvents and weapons to unsuitable films or video games.
CPP’s card fraud expert, Sarah Blaney, is at pains to point out that the onus is one the parents to resolve these problems. “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,” she said. “Parents need to educate their children about of the very real risks of shopping online.”
There are a number of damage limitation measures that worried parents can, and should, take. These include basic things like signing up to Verified by Visa or MasterCard’s SecureCode to help prevent purchases being made fraudulently.
Any responsible parent also needs to spend time teaching their children what to look for when deciding whether a site is safe to make purchases from. CPP estimate that 75% of children don’t check the security of the websites they use when shopping online. It takes all of two minutes to teach someone to check for the “https” in the prefix of the web page address and find the lock icon in the status bar of the browser.
Although the children will undoubtedly disagree, teaching them the importance of staying safe online could be one of the most valuable gifts they receive this year.
This is a guest post from Choose. The site covers rights issues, research and debate into the consumer credit card and more broadly personal finance markets.