In 2019, around 12,000 (7.15 per cent) reports made to Scamwatch were from people under the age of 25, up by 11 per cent compared to 2018 figures.
While they were scammed of over $5 million, reports from this age group increased by 10 percentage points more than any other age group.
“Scammers don’t discriminate based on age and the wide range of scams reported by this age group is concerning,” Australian Competition and Consumer Commission deputy chair Delia Rickard said.
“Young people may think they are tech-savvy, but scammers are adapting and we expect to see more scams on newer platforms such as Snapchat and TikTok.”
Facebook and Instagram popular among scammers
The ACCC revealed that Facebook and Instagram were the most common platforms for reports and losses by those under 25, with typical scams on these platforms involving fake online stores or the sale of fake tickets to events.
As for the most common scams, online shopping scams outnumbered the rest, making up more than 14 per cent of reports and almost 12 per cent of losses among people under 25.
“Almost half of the losses to people under 25 occurred through bank transfer, but you should also be wary of sellers asking for payment through unusual payment methods such as gift cards or bitcoin,” Ms Rickard said.
“Always try to purchase tickets from authorised sellers and be aware that many links sourced through social media will not be legitimate.”
Additionally, scammers are using social media platforms and email as forums for sextortion scams, where they threaten to share intimate images or footage of individuals online, unless they give in to their demands.
“In many cases, if you receive a sextortion threat from a stranger claiming they have compromising images or video footage of you, these images don’t actually exist, so delete the message. If you are concerned, you can contact the eSafety Commissioner,” Ms Rickard said.
Children among the target population
The ACCC warned that scammers can also target children who play online video games, such as Fortnite, by offering unlocked achievements or special items in exchange for money or gift card codes without ever transferring the item.
“By targeting children, scammers could obtain personal and banking information from the individual’s parents,” Ms Rickard said.
“We encourage parents and guardians to ensure children do not share personal or banking details online, and if they think a scammer has gained access to their personal information, contact their financial institution as soon as possible.”
Ms Rickard advised scam victims to also contact the platform on which they were scammed and inform them of the circumstances surrounding the scam.