We all know who the archetypal scam victim is, don’t we? That’s right. It’s an elderly person living alone – or is it? The National Trading Standards Scams Team (which, as you may or may not recall, made me a Friends Against Scams Scambassador) campaigns long and hard to raise awareness of how scammers target the elderly, and it does an excellent job.
However, June is National Scams Awareness Month 2018, so it seemed an appropriate time to release some research we commissioned earlier in the year. You may like to download the report and read the details for yourself but the headline is that young people are six times more vulnerable than the elderly to prize draw scams. I know, it’s a shocker, isn’t it?
I have to confess I was surprised by the findings of our research, which we’ve published under the title, Not so savvy: young people at risk from prize draw scams. My assumption was that young people, and by that I mean 18 to 24-year-olds, know what they’re doing online and that they wouldn’t fall for online prize draw scams. It turns out I was wrong. Obviously not all prize draw scams take place online via email or social media, and you can still be drawn into a scam by phone or post, but equally obviously the online world gives criminals enormous scope for perpetrating scams.
And the bad news is that scams are still a growing problem. According to the Crime Survey for England and Wales, in the 12 months to September 2017 there was a 7% increase year on year in the number of fraud offences recorded. However, an evaluation of the effectiveness of last year’s National Scams Awareness Month showed that there had been a significant increase in young people’s engagement with the campaign – and that’s really good news.
So why are young people particularly vulnerable to scams? My hunch is that it’s partly because young people tend to take more risks than older people and partly because young people are still developing their judgement and experience. Clearly, it’s also because scammers are just very good at what they do and know exactly what incentives to offer young people to draw them into a scam.
What can we do about it? Education and awareness are obviously vital and to that end Prizeology has created a short guide which explains what you can do to avoid getting scammed. It’s called Scam savvy, you can download it here and we think it contains some sensible advice. It’s primarily aimed at young people, but I don’t kid myself that twentysomethings avidly read this blog, so if you’re related to or know a young person, you might like to alert them to it, because we really want to get the guide out there. Having said that, though, anyone, whatever their age, should find it helpful.
Prizeology specialises in all aspects of prize promotions – if you need help with a prize promotion, do drop us a line – and we campaign against prize draw scams because they undermine consumer trust in the prize promotions industry and it’s the right thing to do.
Sarah Burns is Prizeology’s Chief Prizeologist and a National Trading Standards Scams Team Scambassador.