Online financial fraud is victimising more youngsters than older people as the formers' digital activities are usually marred by lax security practices and lack of reliance on security products.
25-44-year-olds in the UK are most susceptible to financial crimes while 16-24-year-olds are more likely to be victimised by computer viruses and hacking attacks.
While most of us believe that older people are more susceptible to online fraud or other forms of financial crimes because of their relative lack of digital awareness compared to the younger generations, a new study has revealed that the truth is quite the opposite.
Younger people, especially those under the age of 44 years, are more likely to be victimised by cyber criminals as their digital overconfidence often paves the way for poor cyber hygiene and lack of reliance on essential security products.
A new study by researchers at policynerwork.org has revealed that financial crimes claim more youngsters than older people, with 25-44 year olds in the UK most likely to be victimised by financial crimes that include stealing payment card details or defrauding victims via phishing scams.
At the same time, 16-24 year olds are more likely to fall victim to computer abuse crimes that include virus intrusions and hacking attacks. According to the researchers, this is because only 57 per cent and 50 per cent of young people install security software on tablets and phones respectively.
'Confidence using technology can easily slip into foolhardiness, with security most lax on the devices disproportionately used by digital natives for banking and shopping,' the researchers noted.
To stem such vulnerabilities, the researchers are now calling on the government to impart short online courses in cyber security to youngsters before they leave school. This will help youngsters know how to stay safe online, the importance of security software, and how to detect phishing scams and attempts at online fraud.
At the same time, they are also calling for the introduction of a National Fraud Indicator which may help reduce online fraud by as much as 25 per cent by 2025. A new national Economic Crime Agency, armed with the powers to investigate, disrupt and prosecute for fraud and scams, will also help in reducing instances of financial crimes and other forms of cyber crimes.
'Financial fraud has exploded, becoming the most common crime in Britain today. It is perpetrated in enormous numbers in the UK by organised criminals based around the world.
'But, by and large, the government and financial institutions are still struggling to contain this distinctly modern epidemic. The forces that have unleashed this epidemic will not go away any time soon. But there is still much that can be done to keep it at bay,' they added.
The new study has thrown up results similar to what the government's Get Safe Online survey revealed in October. According to the survey, as many as 11% of 18-24 year olds in the country fell for phishing emails and lost an average of £613, a significant sum for college-goers. At the same time, only 5% of over-55s in the UK fell for similar phishing scams and lost an average of £214 in 2017.
'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.
'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.