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Millennials beware: You’re more likely to be scammed online than your parents

Being a millennial doesn't necessarily mean that the threats are any easier to spot

Millennials beware: You’re more likely to be scammed online than your parents

An offer too good to be true? A seller insistent on not meeting up? Learn how to avoid the most common of e-commerce scams.

In the world of online scams, it is a common misconception that the main targets are older netizens, preyed on for being seemingly less tech-savvy and perceived to be less vigilant than generations Y and Z. It comes as a surprise to many that the tech-savvy youth are equally, if not more, vulnerable to being scammed online.

According to a 2019 Microsoft Digital Civility Study, 69 per cent of millennials and 66 per cent of teenagers in Singapore have been exposed to at least one form of online risk in their lifetime, ahead of Generation X (59 per cent) and Baby Boomers (48 per cent).

The list includes exposure to unwanted contact, hoaxes, scams and fraud as well as behavioural and sexual risks. One reason is the sheer dependence of the younger generation on the Internet. A study conducted by CouponFollow last year showed that millennials make 60 per cent of all their purchases online, up from 47 per cent in 2017. This has no doubt increased in periods such as the recent Circuit Breaker period, leading many of the generation to make more purchases on online platforms.

When asked on his take on why millennials are more prone to such attacks, Associate Professor Steven Wong, director of the Centre of Digital Enablement at the Singapore Institute of Technology, said: “It is because they are so comfortable with using such digital devices that they often ignore the cybersecurity risk associated with digital device usage. Unlike non-digital natives where cybersecurity awareness is key in mitigating cybersecurity crimes, the younger demographics have the attitude of ‘I know, but I don’t really care’, which poses a much bigger problem.”

COMMON PLOYS USED BY CYBER CRIMINALS

According to a CNA article published earlier this year, scam cases surged 54 per cent in 2019, accounting for 27 per cent of overall annual crime.

E-commerce scams topped the list in terms of the total number of reported cases, recording a 30-per-cent increase from the previous year. 

E-commerce scams often tempt buyers with huge discounts. These items are then not delivered after payment has been made. Cyber criminals have also been known to take advantage of the urgency that comes during a crisis. A well-noted example of this was the selling of masks during the initial COVID-19 outbreak. Scammers encouraged buyers to pay hastily for their items before leaving them in the lurch without the masks being delivered.

In the world of online scams, it is a common misconception that the main targets are older netizens, preyed on for being seemingly less tech-savvy and perceived to be less vigilant than generations Y and Z. It comes as a surprise to many that the tech-savvy youth are equally, if not more, vulnerable to being scammed online.

According to a 2019 Microsoft Digital Civility Study, 69 per cent of millennials and 66 per cent of teenagers in Singapore have been exposed to at least one form of online risk in their lifetime, ahead of Generation X (59 per cent) and Baby Boomers (48 per cent).

The list includes exposure to unwanted contact, hoaxes, scams and fraud as well as behavioural and sexual risks. One reason is the sheer dependence of the younger generation on the Internet. A study conducted by CouponFollow last year showed that millennials make 60 per cent of all their purchases online, up from 47 per cent in 2017. This has no doubt increased in periods such as the recent Circuit Breaker period, leading many of the generation to make more purchases on online platforms.

When asked on his take on why millennials are more prone to such attacks, Associate Professor Steven Wong, director of the Centre of Digital Enablement at the Singapore Institute of Technology, said: “It is because they are so comfortable with using such digital devices that they often ignore the cybersecurity risk associated with digital device usage. Unlike non-digital natives where cybersecurity awareness is key in mitigating cybersecurity crimes, the younger demographics have the attitude of ‘I know, but I don’t really care’, which poses a much bigger problem.”

COMMON PLOYS USED BY CYBER CRIMINALS

According to a CNA article published earlier this year, scam cases surged 54 per cent in 2019, accounting for 27 per cent of overall annual crime.

E-commerce scams topped the list in terms of the total number of reported cases, recording a 30-per-cent increase from the previous year. 

E-commerce scams often tempt buyers with huge discounts. These items are then not delivered after payment has been made. Cyber criminals have also been known to take advantage of the urgency that comes during a crisis. A well-noted example of this was the selling of masks during the initial COVID-19 outbreak. Scammers encouraged buyers to pay hastily for their items before leaving them in the lurch without the masks being delivered.

There are also instances where scammers request for additional funds after the initial payment has been transferred. Buyers often feel that they are left with little choice but to part with more money in order to avoid a total loss.

Assoc Prof Wong shared that incidents of online scams have seen a recent upward trajectory largely due to the pandemic, where more consumers have moved online to fulfil their shopping needs. He explained: “It can be expected that e-commerce crimes will continue to increase with consumers facing scams that emerge from too-good-to-be-true deals, fraudulent e-commerce websites, phishing emails and social engineering ploys.”

REMAINING VIGILANT

Fortunately, there are ways to mitigate the threats posed by perpetrators of online scams.

Always ask yourself if the buyer is selling an item for a ridiculously lower price than competitors. When in doubt, remember that age-old adage: If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Read peer reviews by fellow buyers on their experiences dealing with the seller. That said, illegitimate sellers have begun to resort to fake reviews to gain trust, so this method is not fool-proof.

Another tip is to ensure that the site you are purchasing from uses an accredited online merchant service such as PayNow, PayPal, Mastercard or Visa. And if so, read the terms and conditions of the website before making a purchase to ascertain how they resolve any disputes that may arise.

Assoc Prof Wong also advised: “It is important for consumers to be aware of the company that they are procuring services or products from, and they should always try to deal with a reputable company where possible. The Consumers Association of Singapore's (CASE) Company Alert List is a good source of information for local companies to avoid.”

Cyber criminals also tend to win your trust over by providing local bank accounts and scanned pictures of stolen NRICs to convince potential buyers of authenticity. Such verifications are no guarantee of legitimacy. Whenever possible, buyers should opt for cash-on-delivery (especially when dealing through online classifieds or e-marketplace ads) or sites where one’s payment is released to the seller only when the item is delivered. It is also favourable to meet up with a seller whenever the situation permits – this will allow you to pay only after you inspect the item.

As our dependence on the online sphere grows, we need to constantly remain aware of where and how we part with our money when purchasing items on the Internet. We also need to accept the fact that the threats posed by cyber criminals will evolve in tandem with an increased adoption of online platforms and that vigilance is key to protect ourselves from being at the losing end of any such scams. Remember, being a millennial doesn't necessarily mean that the threats are any easier to spot. 

In the world of online scams, it is a common misconception that the main targets are older netizens, preyed on for being seemingly less tech-savvy and perceived to be less vigilant than generations Y and Z. It comes as a surprise to many that the tech-savvy youth are equally, if not more, vulnerable to being scammed online.

According to a 2019 Microsoft Digital Civility Study, 69 per cent of millennials and 66 per cent of teenagers in Singapore have been exposed to at least one form of online risk in their lifetime, ahead of Generation X (59 per cent) and Baby Boomers (48 per cent).

The list includes exposure to unwanted contact, hoaxes, scams and fraud as well as behavioural and sexual risks. One reason is the sheer dependence of the younger generation on the Internet. A study conducted by CouponFollow last year showed that millennials make 60 per cent of all their purchases online, up from 47 per cent in 2017. This has no doubt increased in periods such as the recent Circuit Breaker period, leading many of the generation to make more purchases on online platforms.

When asked on his take on why millennials are more prone to such attacks, Associate Professor Steven Wong, director of the Centre of Digital Enablement at the Singapore Institute of Technology, said: “It is because they are so comfortable with using such digital devices that they often ignore the cybersecurity risk associated with digital device usage. Unlike non-digital natives where cybersecurity awareness is key in mitigating cybersecurity crimes, the younger demographics have the attitude of ‘I know, but I don’t really care’, which poses a much bigger problem.”

COMMON PLOYS USED BY CYBER CRIMINALS

According to a CNA article published earlier this year, scam cases surged 54 per cent in 2019, accounting for 27 per cent of overall annual crime.

E-commerce scams topped the list in terms of the total number of reported cases, recording a 30-per-cent increase from the previous year. 

E-commerce scams often tempt buyers with huge discounts. These items are then not delivered after payment has been made. Cyber criminals have also been known to take advantage of the urgency that comes during a crisis. A well-noted example of this was the selling of masks during the initial COVID-19 outbreak. Scammers encouraged buyers to pay hastily for their items before leaving them in the lurch without the masks being delivered.

There are also instances where scammers request for additional funds after the initial payment has been transferred. Buyers often feel that they are left with little choice but to part with more money in order to avoid a total loss.

Assoc Prof Wong shared that incidents of online scams have seen a recent upward trajectory largely due to the pandemic, where more consumers have moved online to fulfil their shopping needs. He explained: “It can be expected that e-commerce crimes will continue to increase with consumers facing scams that emerge from too-good-to-be-true deals, fraudulent e-commerce websites, phishing emails and social engineering ploys.”

REMAINING VIGILANT

Fortunately, there are ways to mitigate the threats posed by perpetrators of online scams.

Always ask yourself if the buyer is selling an item for a ridiculously lower price than competitors. When in doubt, remember that age-old adage: If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Read peer reviews by fellow buyers on their experiences dealing with the seller. That said, illegitimate sellers have begun to resort to fake reviews to gain trust, so this method is not fool-proof.

Another tip is to ensure that the site you are purchasing from uses an accredited online merchant service such as PayNow, PayPal, Mastercard or Visa. And if so, read the terms and conditions of the website before making a purchase to ascertain how they resolve any disputes that may arise.

Assoc Prof Wong also advised: “It is important for consumers to be aware of the company that they are procuring services or products from, and they should always try to deal with a reputable company where possible. The Consumers Association of Singapore's (CASE) Company Alert List is a good source of information for local companies to avoid.”

Cyber criminals also tend to win your trust over by providing local bank accounts and scanned pictures of stolen NRICs to convince potential buyers of authenticity. Such verifications are no guarantee of legitimacy. Whenever possible, buyers should opt for cash-on-delivery (especially when dealing through online classifieds or e-marketplace ads) or sites where one’s payment is released to the seller only when the item is delivered. It is also favourable to meet up with a seller whenever the situation permits – this will allow you to pay only after you inspect the item.

As our dependence on the online sphere grows, we need to constantly remain aware of where and how we part with our money when purchasing items on the Internet. We also need to accept the fact that the threats posed by cyber criminals will evolve in tandem with an increased adoption of online platforms and that vigilance is key to protect ourselves from being at the losing end of any such scams. Remember, being a millennial doesn't necessarily mean that the threats are any easier to spot. 

To discover more about how you can avoid being scammed, read the Media Literacy Council’s tip sheet on e-commerce scams.

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