While older people still lose the most money online, the surge of young victims highlights the growing sophistication of online scammers. We ask the experts how to protect teens and children from financial loss online.
The popular image of a scam victim is a retiree, swindled over the phone. Or perhaps a lovelorn adult led astray on a dating site. New data suggests that the picture is more complicated: the fastest growing group of victims is, in fact, tech-savvy teens.
According to the latest State of Internet Scams report, produced by the reverse search technology company Social Catfish, the amount of money lost by victims aged 20 and younger has grown by nearly 2,500% in five years, from $8.2 million in 2017 to $210 million in 2022. That’s compared to a rise of 805% among seniors. While the study focuses on American victims, it marks a trend that British teens and their families should note.
According to Ofcom, 24% of three- and four-year-olds have their own social media profiles. This rises to 60% of eight- to 11-year-olds. But in a recent survey, the communications regulator found a discrepancy between these children’s perception of their savviness online, and their real ability to spot fraud. Nearly a quarter (23%) of kids were confident they could distinguish between what’s real and what’s fake online, yet they could not identify a fake social media profile when presented with one.