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Under-25s’ risky online habits ‘leave them open to fraudsters’

Young people are too quick to share their data and fail to check how it’s used, researchers find

Millennials’ ‘complacent’ attitudes to online security could be leaving them open to scams and identity theft, researchers have found.

In a survey examining 18-24-year-olds’ online behaviour, 29% said they would share their Facebook details with a third-party app such as a quiz or shopping app, and 27% said they wouldn’t read information on how their details would be used before agreeing to share them.

Four in 10 admitted to using the same password across multiple online accounts, leaving them all vulnerable if one is hacked – and 15% said they keep a record of their passwords on their mobile phones.

Over 2,000 young adults participated in the YouGov research commissioned by credit agency Equifax for Scams Awareness Month.

‘False sense of security’

Equifax says its findings could help explain why young people make up a growing proportion of online and identity fraud victims.

It comes after fraud prevention service Cifas found a 34% increase in victims under the age of 21 in 2016.

Equifax credit information expert Lisa Hardstaff said under-25s could be regarded as ‘digital natives’ because they have grown up with the internet and social media – but this leaves them with a ‘false sense of security.’

Hardstaff added that, using social media, ‘young people can easily reveal their age, birth date, address, pet names or even family details such as their mother’s maiden name – all things that could be used for security questions or passwords.’

The latest findings add to a chorus of concerns about young people being targeted by scammers. Last year, research by the City of London Police found 30% of binary options fraud victims were under the age of 30. Shockingly, almost one in 10 victims were under 20.

The report highlighted how they are lured in by fake social media profiles purporting to belong to successful binary options traders, which fraudsters populate with images of luxury watches, cars and fine dining.

How to keep safe online

It’s crucial to safeguard your personal details and be wary of any unsolicited emails, texts or phone calls in the fight against fraud:

  • Double-check that your social media profiles are private so that you only sharing information with people you know.
  • Don’t accept invitations from people you don’t know on social media sites.
  • Create strong passwords for use online, and use different ones for each account you have.
  • A bank will never ask for your Pin, or for a whole security number or password. You will never need to share these details with anyone.
  • For more tips on how to stay safe, see our Identity Theft guide.
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