Under-25s more likely to fall for phishing scams compared to over-55s in the UK

Phishing scams in the UK have claimed more under 25s than those over the age of 55, the government's Get Safe Online survey has revealed.

More than one in ten under-25s in the UK have fallen for phishing scams and have lost £613 to hackers on an average.

Young Joe rolled his eyes in disbelief every time his grandfather asked him about how apps worked, how he could respond to emails, post a tweet, share a post, or even search for a recipe on Instagram. He couldn't even understand why grandpa would ask inane questions like how did the cloud work, why did he have to share his pictures on Facebook when he could just send them to close friends on WhatsApp, and what not.

A year later, and £613 poorer, young Joe now understands why grandpa was right. Sharing too many images on Facebook, checking-in at his favourite hangout places, and tagging all his friends on multiple posts had come back to haunt him. A few days earlier, someone posing as his best friend swindled him of a good chunk of money, never to be heard from again.

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Like a survey conducted by the government's Get Safe Online has revealed, this is particularly true for thousands of under-25s in the UK. According to the survey, as many as 11% of 18-24 year olds in the country fell for phishing emails and have lost an average of £613, a significant sum for college-goers. At the same time, only 5% of over-55s in the UK have fallen for similar phishing scams and have lost an average of £214.

'Evidence from the report revealed just 40% of under 25s say they ‘carefully read and re-read all emails’, in contrast with two thirds (69%) of 55+ year olds who scrupulously check all online communication.

'Worryingly, half of under 25s (51%) even admit to regularly ‘replying to or clicking links in unsolicited or spam emails’ – despite it being a common technique used by phishers. However, older Brits are more cautious, with only a quarter ever replying to or clicking on links in suspect emails,' said Get Safe Online.

Thanks to the survey, it has also come to light that the fact that the younger generation is more trusting of online communications compared to millennials, they are more likely to fall for phishing scams. Phishing attacks have also caused more long-term damage to youngsters, with a quarter of younger victims’ lifestyle and finances severely damaged following phishing attacks.

At the same time, 29%, or almost one in three youngsters are likely to suffer mental health issues after being victimised by hackers, as against just 3% of over-55s.

'There’s a common misconception that as ‘digital natives’ younger people are savvier and safer online. However, as our report shows, this isn’t the case. When it comes to staying safe from cyberscammers, older may actually mean wiser,' said Tony Neate, CEO of Get Safe Online.

'Unfortunately, it doesn’t surprise me that fraudsters have turned their attentions to the younger generation – under 25s spend so much of their time online, leaving a trail of personal information behind them, with little or no regard to security or privacy,' said Tim Ayling, Director EMEA, Fraud and Risk Intelligence at RSA Security.

'Cybercriminals are adept at following this trail of breadcrumbs back to their target, and ruthless when it comes to using this information against them for financial gain,' he added.