Generation Z typically refers to people born between 1997 and 2012 – which is those currently aged between 10 and 25.
For the sake of transparency that puts me firmly in the Millennial category. While I remember at the age of 12 having a lesson on what we would now call social media, I also think the internet was still treated with a level of trepidation back then.
I remember my gran warning me not to speak to strangers in online chat rooms and not to give away personal information to someone I didn’t trust (who knew Granny Eva was so on top of online security?!).
However, with the advent of social networks and online dating, the idea of talking to and even meeting people online has become quite normal. So much happens online nowadays it can be easy to let your guard down.
Gen Z may see an email from a Nigerian prince asking for help and immediately know it’s a scam, but that doesn’t mean that they can spot every scam.
Scammers are increasingly targeting this generation as they become young adults and gain access and control of their own accounts and devices. But how?
Scams that specifically target Gen Z can include fake gift cards and shopping deals. Legitimate businesses use social media to interact with their audiences, which makes it the perfect place for a scammer to hide. Scammers create profiles that impersonate celebrities or influencers, buy some followers and impersonate that influencer announcing the free gift. They send you a message to say you’ve won and ask them for your bank details.
It’s incredibly easy to open a social media account as you don’t need third party verification or evidence of ID and address documentation to open an account. Even with email registration there are websites that provide disposable temporary email addresses.
It’s not just social media that’s the target. According to a press release earlier this year from the FCA on ScamSmart, 26% of young people between the ages of 18 and 34 would be willing to give access to their devices by sharing their screen with someone they’d not met. Screensharing is increasingly being used by scammers as a way to access your information.
Vigilance at all times
As employees within financial services, we can’t just assume that people know what they’re doing with online security. We have a responsibility to highlight risks and explain what the warning signs are, especially when it comes to the younger generation.
Opening a bank account for the first time, deciding which app to use to invest your savings, or accessing your first pension online, can be a lot for someone who has never been through that process before. And if their focus is on getting the best deal or making sure the form has been completed properly, they may not be also thinking about checking for signs of a scam.
A report from GBG on the state of Digital Identity found that 62% of young adults believe its their responsibility to protect their information online compared to 76% across all age groups. This means that young people are more likely to believe that responsibility for online security sits with companies rather than them.
The assumption that companies are taking the key role in online security is only going to grow and become an expectation. Being aware of what consumers expect can only help to keep us ahead of the curve.
There’s no doubt that scammers are increasingly targeting younger people. As they start opening their first pension accounts and taking control of their Jisas we need to make sure that the new generation of investors are comfortable and in control of their money.