Almost one in three 5-16 year olds (31%) have racked up a bill online using their parents' payment accounts that has got them into trouble; with some spending almost 600 a year - over half were unaware they were doing it.

11% of children simply click and proceed without asking permission as their parents' payment details are saved on the website they are using. 3% of parents don't check their statements, so are unaware of rogue transactions.

Amongst the 5-16 year olds that unknowingly racked up a bill, almost half (49%) were gaming and didn't realise they'd made virtual purchases, and 34% were unaware the payment details were saved on the device.

Luckily, 10% of these parents managed to get the money back from the credit card provider involved in the unauthorised transactions, and 9% got a refund from the organisation the purchase was carried out with.

91% of parents think that websites targeting children should do more to protect parents from unauthorised purchases. In particular, almost two thirds (61%) feel these websites should be banned from using pre-filled payment details. money.co.uk's guide will help parents avoid huge bills as a result of children's activity.

With 8.7 million 5-16 years olds in the UK about to embark on their school summer holidays, new research1 from financial comparison website money.co.uk reveals that unwitting parents could together face a 33 million2 bill for their children's online transactions over the next six weeks - 13 million of which will spent be without their permission.

Our study shows that over half (52%) of 5-16 year olds use their parent's payment accounts to make purchases online, and 31% of these have racked up a bill that has got them into trouble. For some parents this bill totalled almost 600 a year.

The research, which was carried out amongst 1,008 parents with 5-16 year olds that are active online, shows that many of these children were completely unaware they'd made a purchase.

273 hours on screens during the holidays - children aged 5 to 16 spend an average of six and a half hours a day in front of a screen which includes: watching TV, playing games consoles and using a mobile, computer or tablet 3

'Fraudster' in the house

Parents have already lost millions thanks to children's unauthorised payments, hardly surprising given 13% think it's okay for their kids to use their online payment accounts without permission. However, 14% of parents whose children use their online payment accounts claim their child has done so without permission.

Luckily, 10% of the affected parents managed to get the money back from the credit card provider involved in the unauthorised transaction. A further 9% got a refund from the organisation the purchase was carried out with.

Accidental 'fraudsters'

More than half the children who got into trouble for an online transaction were victims of technology - completely unaware they were incurring charges. 49% were gaming and didn't realise they'd made virtual purchases and over a third (34%) did not know the payment details were saved on the device they were using.

There are, of course, more tech savvy tots and teens that spend intentionally with more than one in ten (15%) clicking proceed without asking their parents' permission to make a purchase.

What are they buying?

Amongst the 5-16 years olds that carried out unauthorised transactions online using their parents' online payment accounts, 40% got into trouble for purchasing apps and a further 33% got carried away with in-game purchases. Mainstream online purchases they got told off for making included books (24%), music (24%) and online shopping (19%).

Repercussions for children

One in three (36%) parents whose child who got into trouble for racking up bills online made them pay the money back. 29% felt it was time to introduce parental locks on their devices, 26% stopped pocket money and 24% used grounding as a punished. 15% of parents simply told the child off and let them continue to use their online payment accounts.

Nine out of ten parents call for regulatory change

The majority (91%) of parents think that websites targeting children should do more to protect parents from unauthorised purchases. They feel these websites should be banned from using pre-filled credit details (61%) and block multiple transactions (35%).

Hannah Maundrell, Editor in Chief of money.co.uk, comments:

"This isn't about children being sneaky or underhand; many of those that have racked up unauthorised bills online don't even realise they've done it.

"The real issue here is that not all companies that target children are putting sufficient measures in place to stop this happening. We are not talking about a few pounds; the global bill is millions and probably growing by the day as children spend more time on tech.

"We can't escape the fact that there is an onus on parents to educate children around financial safety. However, as technology moves at such a rapid pace ,many parents are struggling to keep up with the changes and don't realise there are issues until they get the bill.

"Now we're in the school holidays, I would urge parents to disable pre-populated payment details and set up parental controls on devices and websites their children may use. It's also worth making children aware of the risks, and asking them to get permission before they carry out any online transaction.

"You can't rely on the fact you'll get a refund so you really must protect yourselves and your children from surprise bills that could ruin your summer."

If you want further tips and advice on how to protect your payment accounts from the unsuspecting in-house 'fraudster' money.co.uk have produced a guide" to help parents make the holiday period a happy one.

Notes to Editors:
1. The survey of 1,008 parents with children aged 5-16 that are active online was conducted online by Markettiers 4DC on behalf of money.co.uk from 9th - 13th July, 2015.
2. ONS figures show there are 8,735,431 5-16 year olds in the UK:
- 97.49% of these are active online based on survey screen-out rates, estimates 8,516,172 of UK 5-16 year olds
- 52% of these use their parents online payment accounts, estimates 4,428,409 of UK 5-16 year olds
3. Connected Kids report, Childwise - children spend 6.5 hours a day on screens, they have six weeks summer holiday which is 42 days, 42 x 6.5 = 273 hours.

About money.co.uk:
money.co.uk, recently ranked second fastest growing business in the Sunday Times Fast Track, was established in 2008 by Chris Morling and remains the only independently owned comparison website within the top players in the UK. The Cirencester based business employs around 38 people and is currently one of the most used financial comparison websites in the UK, attracting around 2.5 million visitors a month. It's a free, online comparison service which allows customers to compare a range of personal finance products and utility services. The website compares over 20,000 products across 56 categories using over 800 comparison tables, offering consumers the best tools and information.