A new report from visa has revealed that young people are more than twice as likely to trust a fraudulent message.
The study carried out by Visa and researchers from Aston Institute for Forensic Linguistics (AIFL) found that one in four (25%) 18-34-year-olds unknowingly trust fraudulent messages – more than double the proportion of over 55s (11%).
Out of 2000 consumers asked about their experiences, it was found that 25% of consumers shopped online at least once a month. 55% of consumers said they had seen an increase in fraudulent messages in the past year with the average UK consumer being sent fraudulent messages twice a week. It is now more important than ever that we understand how we can be subject to this type of fraud.
Fraudulent messaging has become more sophisticated with senders often copying the language and logos of companies when contacting people. The study also showed that younger people are more trusting of communications they receive relating to products and services online:
- Almost a quarter (23%) of respondents between 18 – 34 said they were unlikely to check messages for spelling and grammar mistakes, while nearly 3 in 10 (29%) said they were unlikely to consider how persuasive the language is.
- Common reasons for trusting a fraudulent message were familiar wording (39%) such as the use of the reader’s name, and references to established companies. This was followed by respondents feeling the action required, such as clicking through to a webpage, was clear (36%) or that they recognised the brand name or product mentioned (34%).
The report from Visa also revealed several language tactics used when targeting online shoppers. They found that:
- ‘Click here’, ‘account information’ and ‘gift card’ were found to be the most commonly used phrases in fraudulent communications
- Inviting people to click links (87%) and take urgent action (72%) are among the most common techniques used by fraudsters
- This is followed by asking the reader to resolve a ‘problem’ (72%), such as rearranging package delivery times or paying a late fee, and highlighting unique offers (32%)
With fraudsters using various techniques to make themselves appear credible, Visa is encouraging consumers to learn about ‘Fraudulese’, to help them feel confident online.
Mandy Lamb, Managing Director, UK & Ireland at Visa comments:“As we’re all spending more time online, it’s good to be aware of what we can do to keep ourselves safe. Our new study demonstrates how it can be hard to spot the signs of fraud in emails, texts and messages. That’s why we’re raising awareness of ‘Fraudulese’ and sharing our top tips for spotting the signs, so everyone has the tools to avoid falling victim. When it comes to paying with Visa, you can feel confident you are paying safely and securely, as Visa’s Zero Liability Policy* means you won’t be held responsible for unauthorised or fraudulent charges made with your account. “
- Spell-check messages– inconsistencies in the language used in a message, such as errors in grammar and spelling, or differences between the sender’s name and the URL link provided, could indicate it’s fraud. If you receive a message from a company or individual out of the blue, be vigilant in checking for these errors.
- Be cautious of urgent actions– language encouraging you to take urgent action is a common tactic used in bogus communications. Look out for phrases like ‘send (…) here’ or ‘click (…) below’, or undated timeframes such as ‘in 48 hours’ or ‘by tomorrow morning’. Always take the time to consider whether the message is genuine. If you think it’s fake, it’s important not to click on any links to avoid compromising your personal information.
- Watch out for suspicious asks– fraudsters often entice you by either highlighting a problem (e.g., asking you to rearrange a delivery) or making a tempting offer (e.g., suggesting you have won a prize). Think about your recent dealings with that organisation or individual. If you don’t recognise the problem you’re being asked to resolve or the offer they’re trying to get you to react to, it might be fraud. If you’re unsure, don’t click on any links or contact the sender in any way.
- Validate they are who they say they are – fraudsters often work hard to convince you of their credibility, sometimes using words and phrases that you might find in genuine communications. It can be hard to tell the difference, so if you are unsure, you can check by using a different form of communication to the one they have used to reach you. For example, if you get a text asking for bank information, try emailing or web chatting with the company directly to check if it’s a true request.
- Check the message with someone you trust– people can be great at understanding language and communication in social contexts. It may sound obvious, but if you’re unsure about the legitimacy of a message, it can help to discuss it with someone you trust. They may have also received a similar message and might be able to help advise on the best course of action to take. Sharing your experience might save someone else from falling victim too.
If you are targeted by a fraudster, to help others avoid falling victim you can report it to Action Fraud or the National Cyber Security Centre. And if you think you have been defrauded, call your bank and explain the situation – they can often help you claim your money back.