Under 35s most at risk from impersonation scams, warns UK Finance

People who are under the age of 35 are more likely than older age groups to be targeted in impersonation scams, according to research from UK Finance.

The UK trade association said that its survey found that 71 per cent of 18-34 year olds had been contacted by an impersonation scammer - a criminal that contacts someone and pretends to be a person or organisation they trust - with a further 73 per cent of those targeted saying they had subsequently been persuaded to either send money or personal information.

This age group was also more likely to be approached in a variety of ways, including over the phone, via email, text, and WhatsApp.

“An alarming number of people fall for impersonation scams and whilst our findings show that younger people are the ones who are often targeted, it’s important to remember that anyone can be caught out by these criminals and that you should always stay alert,” said Katy Worobec, managing director of economic crime, UK Finance. “Given the level of sophistication of some of these scams, we urge the public to be wary of unexpected requests for personal or financial information.”

UK Finance explained that a recent and growing impersonation scam involves fraudsters sending WhatsApp messages that appear to be from a friend or family member with a seemingly genuine request for money.

“WhatsApp protects our users’ personal messages with end-to-end encryption, but we want to remind people of the other ways they can keep their accounts safe and remain vigilant to the threat of scammers,” said Kathryn Harnett, policy manager, WhatsaApp. “We advise all users never to share their six-digit PIN code with others, not even friends or family, and recommend that all users set up two-step verification for added security.

“And, if you receive a suspicious message (even if you think you know who it’s from), calling or requesting a voice note is the fastest and simplest way to check someone is who they say they are. A friend in need is a friend worth calling.”

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