Young people more likely to become victims of online fraud

The digitally native are digitally naïve

Younger people are disproportionately the targets of online financial fraud in the UK, whereas the over 75s are least likely to be victims of these offences, according to a new report from leading thinktank Policy Network commissioned by NatWest. Older people are often seen as prime targets for fraudsters as they are perceived to be less tech savvy than younger people. However, new research shows that less cautious online behaviour, particularly among those aged between 18-24, is putting them at a higher risk of fraud than older people.

We might expect these ‘digital natives’ to be the most competent users of technology, but over 80 per cent of this age group are willing to share their email address online with their friends, and as many as 29 per cent are willing to share their mother’s maiden name (a commonly used security question). This contrasts with just 60 per cent of over 55s willing to share their email address, and only 12 per cent willing to share their mother’s maiden name. 

Related to this is the growing problem of young people falling victim to money laundering scams via popular social media sites. For example, criminals use these sites to advertise ‘cash flips’, where young people get paid to allow their bank accounts to be used for illicit purposes. In the first half of 2017 this type of activity doubled among account holders under the age of 21.

The research also reveals that security is less of a concern for devices most used by digital natives for everyday activities such as online shopping, which is increasingly popular amongst this age group. As well as this, the way that young people view security on their desktops is different to other devices; for example, whilst 86 per cent would install security software on a PC, just 57 per cent would do so on a tablet device such as an iPad.

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