Young people in Croydon are being warned by the council to get smart about online scams after a spike in reported internet fraud.
Fraudsters are likely to target borough residents aged 18-24 with a range of tricks, including online subscription traps, identity theft and job scams via social media.
Action Fraud, the national cyber-crime reporting centre, recently recorded a 64% increase in the number of young people approached by scammers on Instagram. A survey of people aged 18-24 by fraud prevention organisation Cifas found that 50% of respondents said they would never fall for an online scam, compared to 37% of the public as a whole. Last year Cifas also reported a record 175,000 identity fraud cases, 95% of which involved scammers impersonating innocent victims.
Now, to mark the second week of Scams Awareness Month, Croydon Council’s trading standards team is urging young people, especially those aged 18-24, to take steps to protect themselves from online fraud.
Identity fraud has been growing steadily over the past 10 years and is estimated to cost the UK £5.4bn per year. Action Fraud, the City of London Police, Cifas and Equifax have launched an identity fraud campaign with hashtag #AreYouOneofThem. The campaign is urging people to be more vigilant to help protect themselves from fraudsters.
You are better protected against online identity fraud if you:
• Make sure you access wi-fi that is password protected.
• Use different passwords for multiple account logins. Keep passwords complex by picking three random words.
• Check privacy settings across all the social media channels you use.
• Think twice before you share your details, in particular your full date of birth, your address and contact details.
• Install antivirus software on your devices, and keep it updated.
• Avoid using sensitive apps, such as online banking, when using public wi-fi.
• Download updates to your software when your device prompts you – they often add enhanced security features.
Reports of online scams and fraud nationwide are up, with some 3.6 million cases – an 8% rise – resulting in an estimated loss of almost £11bn, with under-25s being specifically targeted.
“It’s great that young people are so digitally confident, but any complacency online makes us all vulnerable to scammers.
“Citizens’ Advice research shows that more than half of young people are unlikely to report scams, and that’s something we need to change if we are to tackle this worrying trend.”
Councillor Hamida Ali, cabinet member for safer Croydon and communities
For more information, contact the Citizens’ Advice consumer service on 03454 040506, report scams to Action Fraud via 0300 123 2040 or visit www.actionfraud.police.uk
For more about Scams Awareness Month, visit the Citizens’ Advice website.