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Five scams that target young people and what it could mean for their future

Scam Awareness Month switches focus to younger people – share this with someone who could be a target

Too many young people believe they’re unlikely to fall for a scam, making them complacent and vulnerable, according to Action Fraud.

But young people are increasingly being targeted. The fraud protection service Cifas recorded a 30% increase between 2016 and 2017 in identity theft cases affecting under 21s.

And research published by Citizen’s Advice in 2017 revealed that more than half of people aged 18 to 24 are unlikely to report a scam.

We’ve outlined five scams that are often targeted at younger people and what it could mean for their future if they fall victim.

Read more: 10 of the nastiest scam threats in the UK.

1. Job scams

Young people are particularly vulnerable to this type of scam because of inexperience in the job market, making it unclear what’s normal or what to expect.

Action Fraud sent out an alert in November warning that jobs were being posted by bogus recruitment companies and businesses. People were asked to complete application and interview forms that requested personal details and banking details, as well as copies of identity documents.

As well as losing money, victims might also might miss out on genuine jobs or opportunities.

Job scams and employment fraud can also have ongoing consequences because your personal data has been compromised, which can affect your credit score.

You can protect yourself from job scams by checking the employer’s website or emails for poor spelling and grammar, and by researching the agency or company.

If your gut says its suspicious, it probably is. Never hand over your personal information unless you’re certain the job is legitimate.

2. Ticketing scams

More than £3m was lost to ticket fraud in the space of a year, with an average loss of £568 per victim, according to Action Fraud.

Criminals may pose as a website or agent for a music concert, festival or a sporting contest such as the World Cup. Victims then purchase tickets that either do not arrive or are turned away at the door for having fake tickets.

Action Fraud has warned that these scams are especially prevalent in summer when there’s many more events happening.

We have more information about event scams with our top tips on how to buy online and what to do if you’ve bought from an unauthorised ticket seller.

3. Money mules

During the first nine months of last year, there was a reported 75% rise in the misuse of bank accounts by 18 to 24-year-olds, and research by Cifas pointed to this being people being used as ‘money mules’.

This is where an individual allows their bank account to be used to move money from criminal funds. Young people and students are particularly vulnerable as criminals know they are often short of cash.

Victims can be lured by someone asking them to receive money into their bank account and transfer it onto someone else, keeping some of the cash for themselves.

But if caught, the person targeted may be implicated in money laundering themselves, which is punishable with a prison sentence of up to 14 years.

4. Social media and messaging scams

One in five young people have been hacked on social media and 43% of those have no idea how it happened, according to research released this month.

Once a hacker gets access to your account, they can see everything you’ve posted online and use this to get access to your accounts.

Nationwide, which commissioned the research, warned that ‘oversharing’ on social media could put you at risk. For example, posting that you’re on holiday could alert people to the fact your home is empty.

And sharing information such as your address, phone number, workplace or birthday can put you at risk of fraud.

You also shouldn’t share your bank details or any other sensitive information over instant messenging. Even though this seems private, it can be easily accessed if someone hacks your account.

Scammers also use messaging services such as Facebook Messenger or Whatsapp to phish for sensitive details.

Recently, scammers appeared to offer free Ryanair flights to Whatsapp users who shared the message with 15 of their friends, to spread the fake offer more widely. Users are then asked to click a ‘claim tickets’ button and enter their details.

If you receive a link you don’t think is trustworthy or an offer that seems too good to be true, it probably is. Search the offer before clicking it, as someone is likely to have already reported it.

If it hasn’t been reported but has all the makings of a scam, we can help you report it to the relevant authorities.

5. Rental scams

Young people – in particular students looking online for housing near university in another city – are at a high risk of being affected by rental scams.

Fraudulent landlords post fake ads and tell prospective tenants to transfer deposits or prove they have rent money before they even see the property.

Victims then lose this money, which may mean they’re left short and can’t afford another.

To avoid falling victim to these scams, the National Union of Students says to:

  • never transfer a holding deposit without visiting a property
  • avoid paying money online
  • make sure the ad looks legitimate
  • use a trusted landlord or letting agent
  • protect your deposit by using a scheme approved by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government – more information about this can be found on Gov.uk.
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