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Fraudsters using social media to sell goods that will never arrive are targeting younger people, as one in four scam victims is aged 21 to 30, according to Barclays(BARC.L).
Purchase scams, where people buy goods that never arrive or are not as advertised, are by far the most common type of scam – accounting for more than half (60%) of all scams in the last three months, according to data from Barclays covering scams reported to it by customers between March and May 2022.
Barclays said scams often take place on tech platforms such as social media, purchase/auction websites, or dating apps, making younger people particularly susceptible.
However, this same age group is the most confident it will not fall victim to a scam. In a separate survey for Barclays, just over three-quarters (76%) of 21 to 30-year-olds said they were confident in their abilities to spot a scam.
Barclays said smartphones are among the most common type of item fraudsters advertise.
People aged 21 to 30 made up 28% of purchase scam victims in the statistics, compared with 4% who are aged 61 to 70 and just 2% who are over 70.
Tara Flynn, co-founder of comparison site choosewisely.co.uk, said: “Unless it’s happened to you, it’s easy to think you’d never fall for a financial scam, but fraudsters are increasingly more sophisticated and can be incredibly convincing. There has been an explosion of online shoppers being scammed in recent months, and scarily scammers have also become exceptional at pretending to be from your bank.
“Con artists will target you regardless of your age - gone are the days scams only targeted the gullible. Sadly fraud techniques these days are innovative, intelligent and cunning. Nobody is insusceptible to a scam these days, so everyone should be on high alert.
“If you’ve been contacted out of the blue, asked to share your personal details, or have received texts or emails that take you to websites with URLs that differ from the official site, you should assume it’s a scam. If you get a call from someone telling you they’re from your bank’s fraud prevention team, simply hang up and call your bank directly so you can be sure you’re talking to your bank and not a fraudster”.
Barclays has partnered with TV and radio presenter Perri Kiely to raise awareness of scams.
Kiely said: “Like most young people, I consider myself tech savvy as I’ve grown up with social media, and I was shocked to find out how many people my age are falling for scams.”
Ross Martin, head of digital safety at Barclays, said: “Many people picture an elderly person when they think of a scam victim, and, whilst it’s true that older people are more likely to fall for higher value scams, the most common type of scams are where people are tricked into buying something they never receive.
“The best advice is if something seems too good to be true, it probably is.
“Scammers usually offer items for significantly lower than its value to lure you in – stop and question why any legitimate seller would do this.
“Check the seller’s website and be wary of anyone asking for a bank transfer rather than a debit or credit card transaction.”
Watch: How to avoid Cyber Criminals