Younger people more susceptible to being scammed

The LGA warns that text and call-based scams are on the rise and urges everyone to remind themselves of tell-tale signs that you may have been contacted by a scammer.

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People between the ages of 16-34 are more susceptible to being scammed and account for over half of the scams experienced in the UK.

Studies show one in five of those aged 16-34 had been scammed in recent years, compared with just four per cent of those aged 55 and over.

The LGA warns that text and call-based scams are on the rise and urges everyone to remind themselves of tell-tale signs that you may have been contacted by a scammer.

Common text-based scams include messages claiming you are to be fined for not filling in the 2021 census, you owe money for a parcel from Royal Mail or other delivery firm, or you are due a Council Tax refund.

In January, the LGA warned of a text message scam designed to look like a message from NHS England, claiming to offer a vaccine booking at a cost.

Anyone who unexpectedly receives a text, email or phone call seeking information or payment should refrain from giving out personal information, clicking any links or responding until you can be sure it is genuine. If in doubt, find the correct contact details online of the company in question and check with them directly.

Tell-tale signs that something could be a scam include:

  • The contact is unexpected
  • It seems too good to be true – a discount or offer much better than you’d expect
  • You’re asked to provide personal information
  • You’re asked to make a payment of any kind - councils or other agencies will never text asking for you to make a payment
  • You’ve been asked to do something quickly or have missed a deadline and could be punished

Cllr Nesil Caliskan, Chair of the LGA’s Safer and Stronger Communities Board, said:

“Sadly, one of the many negative impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic is the increase we are seeing in scams, targeting people who may well have suffered financially over the past year.

“People tend to assume that most victims of scams are older and while anyone can be subject to fraudulent activity, what we are seeing is a huge percentage of young people falling for scams.

“With everyone using their mobile phone for banking, shopping, booking appointments and more, it is so easy to see a text or email from a scammer and believe it is legitimate. We urge everyone, of all ages, to brush up on the tell-tale signs of a scam and to know what to do if they are unfortunate enough to fall victim.”

If you get sent a message that you believe to be fraudulent, you can report it to your mobile phone provider or by forwarding the message to 7726, a free reporting service provided by phone operators. You should also report the scam to Action Fraud to help others avoid falling victim in the future.

Case studies

Dover District Council have warned residents of reports of Council Tax scams across the country. They urge anyone who receives an email, text message or phone call offering a Council Tax refund or band reassessment to not give out any personal information and block the sender.

Halton Council have highlighted a text-based scam currently in operation that appears to be from Royal Mail asking recipients to pay a customs charge or dispatch fee.

Arun District Council have urged people to be on the lookout for a scam text claiming they are set to receive a fine for not completing the 2021 census, including a link to update your personal information.

Oxford City Council has been made aware of a scam aimed at businesses claiming COVID-19 grant funding and has reminded residents that the council will never ask for bank card information or mother’s maiden name during the application or processing of any COVID-19 related business grant.

Durham County Council announced that attempted coronavirus frauds with a value of almost £800,000 have been prevented since the start of the pandemic.

Notes to editors

Citizens Advice’s Scams Awareness campaign runs from 14-27 June this year and a wealth of resources can be found on their website.

The National Crime Agency puts the annual cost of fraud at £190 billion per year and cites fraud as the most commonly experienced crime in the UK.

Which have a comprehensive and up-to-date page on ‘How to spot a text message scam’.

Younger age groups (16-34 year olds) were the most susceptible to being scammed and accounted for over half of all the scams experienced (52%) - Communications Consumer Panel