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Teens more likely to fall victim to 'phishing' scams

Posted on 23rd October 2017

We’re supporting a national campaign to raise awareness of ‘phishing’ scams, where fraudsters access personal details though online communication.

We are teaming up with Get Safe Online to warn people about this type of crime and help them better protect themselves.

A survey commissioned by Get Safe Online shows that teens who live their lives online are now more than twice as likely to fall victim to internet conmen than over 55s.

More than one in ten of the youngsters polled (11%), who are aged 18 to 24, have fallen victim to ‘phishing’ scams – where fraudsters access personal details though online communication – compared to just one in 20 (5%) of over 55s, according to the report.

Despite claiming to be very digitally aware, younger cybercrime victims also lose far more money in the attacks, averaging £613.22 compared to £214.70 for the older generation.

In the survey, 38% believed that hackers were likely to be young. The same number believed they were targeted by a large international hacking organisation and almost a quarter (23%) thought that advanced technical skills are needed to carry out a phishing attack.

This could be why more than one in ten (11%) millennials don’t believe that the older generation has the skills to phish, and almost the same number (9%) believe it’s ‘only old people’ who fall for phishing scams.

To prove that anyone can get phished – and equally that anyone could be behind phishing – Get Safe Online trained a group of nans, dubbed the ‘Scammer Nanas’, to phish their grandchildren and dispel the convictions of a quarter of young people who believe they are too smart to fall for scams.

Five nanas were recruited from across the UK to learn how to perpetrate a phishing email. Their schooling included faking their email address, creating false links, inventing a fake ‘company’ and writing a convincing fake email. They then put their knowledge to the test and phished their grandkids with emails with fraudulent links – proving that young people aren’t as savvy as they think.

Cyber experts are blaming the rise in teenage and 20-something victims on being more trusting of online communication than older generations.

The report showed the most common phishing con is a fake email claiming to be from a bank or other financial organisation, asking for consumers to change or verify their login details. More than half (51%) received this type of email, followed by 33% who were sent an email from a company asking them to update logins or provide account details.

Tony Neate, CEO of Get Safe Online, said: “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.

“So to help youngsters gets safe online, we trained a team of Scammer Nanas to show just how easy it is to phish for information and carry out such a cruel and life-impacting crime. We hope our nana scam gang will make young Brits think twice before handing over their information.”

Sue Parker-Nuttley, one of the Scammer Nanas added: “The internet is a wonderful thing – it’s helped me to stay in touch with friends and family. However, it’s astounding how easy it can be for online fraudsters to succeed in their efforts – if I can do it, then anyone can.

“However, there are some really simple things that you can do to protect yourself – like turning on your spam filter or never clicking on links or attachments if you’re suspicious. It’s not difficult and it could save you a heap of trouble down the line.”

To find out more, please head to or search #ScammerNana on social media.

Do you need a quick answer to a general question? Then we recommend you visit the national Ask The Police web site.