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Age Verification – Ensuring the Protection of Minors on Digital Platforms

  • Richard Marley
  • February 25, 2022
  • 7 minutes read
  • 8919
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In today’s technologically advanced era, digital products and services have transformed the way shopping activities and financial operations are carried out. Banking transactions, payments, and transfers are all just a matter of one tap. The convenience of handling everything using mobile applications does make for a futuristic approach, but not without risks of fraud.

Since access to mobile banking platforms is not necessarily limited to adults, there are growing cases of children becoming the targets of fraud. Social media, online gaming, and e-commerce platforms are used by fraudsters to exploit the most vulnerable age group.

Online Gaming & Gambling

The online gaming industry has skyrocketed in recent times with over a billion players registered on gaming platforms throughout the world. Cybercriminals see this as an opportunity to make their own gains by stealing the identities of online gamers or tricking them into carrying out illicit activities. Whatever method they adopt, fraudsters take advantage of the anonymity offered by online gaming platforms. Gaming service providers that connect players from different areas or countries to play online do not incorporate checks to verify their identities. As players can choose any name and age group to register and play, the chances of fraud are further augmented.

Popular games like Fortnite, which has between 3 to 4 million active players in 2022, are often reported to be targeted by cybercriminals. Illicit crimes using minors on gaming platforms began with cases of identity theft, but now things are much worse. Online gaming fraud has now gone to the extent where children are brainwashed into becoming money and drug mules. For instance, in-game features are always an attraction for children when they can use them to complete a particular level or make their character look a certain way. 

Fortnite uses in-game coins like many other online games to unlock special features, and so do most of the popular online gambling platforms. However, these coins are not accessible to all players, which is the reason fraudsters get a chance to exploit the weak judgment of minors. Lack of verification allows fraudsters to communicate with minors through the gaming/gambling platform and ask for favors in return for the in-game digital coins. Minors are the ideal age group to obscure the transfer of illegal cash as well as drugs because they raise considerably less suspicion as compared to adults.

Social Media

Social media fraud became an increasing concern when students were asked to attend classes through online platforms during the COVID-19 pandemic. As the younger generation was given access to mobile devices and laptops, their activities were not limited to studying and homework. Apart from negatively affecting their learning ability, social media usage by children also increased. Just like online gaming platforms, the vulnerability of minors on social media gives rise to scams like identity fraud and personal data leaks. 

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With more than half of the global population using social media, it is safe to say that a significant number of them are teenagers. Platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok have become the favorite applications of the young generation, where their naivety enables fraudsters to steal their personal details as well as photos. This information is used by scammers to access sensitive payment credentials. That’s not all, there is also the issue of repeating advertisements from fake sources that make minors click on them and get redirected to a page that manipulates their device to extract sensitive information. 

Using stolen identity information is easier for fraudsters when the associated accounts belong to minors who won’t take any serious notice against them. With no requirement for a physical presence on social media platforms and the login process being as easy as entering a password, Facebook was found to have a shocking 90 million fake accounts by the end of 2020. 

Regulations for Age Verification in Online Gambling 

When it comes to addressing the risks to minors on digital platforms, the UK government is among many others to take preventive measures. For instance, the country has appointed the Office of Communications (Ofcom) as the regulator for internet security. This means that Ofcom is responsible for protecting social media platforms and their users from fraudulent activity. 

While there are other sectors that are a risk for minors unless age verification measures are implemented, the major issue lies in online gambling. For this reason, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) has issued compliance guidelines for verifying the identity of gamblers at casinos. Casinos and online gambling operators are recommended to use advanced methods of identity verification, such as screening against global sanctions lists and financial crime databases, rather than simply checking their identity documents. The updated regulation from FinCEN considers the permission of US citizens to gamble through online platforms to recommend the use of tech-driven identity verification systems. These identity verification measures also enable the online gambling operator to know the age of their client, hence eliminating the chances of minors getting access to gambling sites. 

Another US regulation that is aimed at protecting minors online is the Children’s Online Privacy Act (COPPA). This regulation ensures the security of the personally identifiable information of children under the age of 13 who use online gaming or any other online platforms. Furthermore, the COPPA provides an additional regulation for online businesses that collect and store their clients’ personally identifiable information. However, the strict rules that restrict minors from accessing the sites force some online gaming and gambling platforms to ignore COPPA compliance and instead benefit from increasing users.

Mass exploitation of minors and the indirect influence on parents’ bank accounts call for a robust age verification solution that can effectively filter out fraudsters. Bank account information and financial operations are now a risky business as they can be carried out through mobile applications. Making the digital landscape safe for minors by securing age-restricted content with an effective barrier has become the need of the hour.

What Shufti Pro Offers

It’s quite clear that regulatory bodies fulfill their social responsibility of recommending and providing guidelines to online service providers for securing the personal information of their clients. Shufti Pro’s digital identity verification solution enables gaming and social media platforms to comply with age verification regulations and also allows them to restrict minors from their platforms before they get involved in any criminal activities.

Shufti Pro also offers a 7-day free trial of the online age verification solution. Businesses can now get hands-on experience of the services, including document verification, facial biometric recognition, and AML screening.

Want to learn more about our age verification solution for your online platform?