• Almost half of 18-24 years olds have been targeted in an impersonation scam
  • Just over half have then shared personal information
  • UK Finance’s Take Five to Stop Fraud campaign has teamed up with magician Ben Hanlin to show Gen Z how easy it is to be tricked into sharing personal information

Under 25s are more likely than older age groups to have been targeted in an impersonation scam and also be swayed to provide personal or financial information, according to new research by UK Finance’s Take Five to Stop Fraud campaign.

An impersonation scam is where a criminal contacts you pretending to be a person or organisation you trust. These scams can be very sophisticated and often start with attempts to trick you into disclosing personal and financial information. Criminals then use this information to impersonate someone you trust, making it seem genuine, but their ultimate aim is to try to steal your money.

Worryingly, almost half (49 per cent) of 18-24 year olds surveyed said that they had been contacted by an impersonation scammer. This compares to only a third of those aged over 55 (32.5 per cent) who had been contacted. Of the 18-24 year olds targeted, over half (52 per cent) said they actually shared personal information or made a payment as a result of the request.

Young adults aged 18-24 were the most confident of any age group in their ability to identify a scam with 91 per cent saying they were confident that they would be able to spot a fake request for personal information online. This level of confidence could put them at risk, as just over a quarter (27 per cent) said they will always take steps to check if the organisation or person can be trusted when asked for personal information out of the blue. This is in stark comparison to older age groups, with over 60 per cent of those aged over 55 saying they always take steps to check out unexpected requests.

UK Finance figures show over £1.2 billion was stolen through fraud in 2022. There were 45,367 cases of impersonation scams in 2022 costing at total of £177.6m, UK Finance figures show.

In response to the growing concern that young adults are at increased risk, Take Five has teamed up with magician Ben Hanlin to show how easy it could be for a criminal to trick people. Ben and the Take Five team have been speaking with young people to understand how easily a criminal can extract their personal information, and reminding them to Stop, Challenge and Protect when faced with potential scams. Ben demonstrated that it doesn’t take a magician to trick people into handing over their personal information when he filmed outside a music festival in East London over the summer.

With criminals turning to more sophisticated ways to steal people’s money and personal information, Take Five and Ben Hanlin want to highlight the importance of challenging all unexpected requests for personal or financial information to make payments.

Ben Donaldson, Managing Director of Economic Crime at UK Finance said:

“Criminals who commit fraud are willing to target us all and they don’t need much information to create an identity online. They can then use that identity to steal our money and fund other crimes, which causes huge damage to both individuals and society. I’m very concerned about the number of young adults who are giving their personal information to criminals, who go on to cause so much harm. Please follow the Take Five to Stop Fraud advice, and keep your details safe”.

Ben Hanlin, the magician renowned for his appearances on ITV’s Tricked and Dancing on Ice, and who is currently making waves on TikTok with an impressive following of over 1.3 million, has joined forces with Take Five to Stop Fraud to show just how convincing criminals can be when targeting people with scams. Ben says:

“Criminals can be incredibly persuasive with the tricks they use, making it hard to see through their illusions. Always remember to challenge requests to share personal or financial information, as sometimes sharing the simplest of information can lead to losing life-changing sums of money.”

Criminals use a tactic called social engineering to groom and manipulate you into transferring money or divulging your personal and financial details. The sophistication of these scams can be surprising and criminals will adapt their methods to exploit current events. It’s important to always be alert to the risk of fraud and check the details to ensure the individual or organisation is who you think they are.

To help people stay safe, the Take Five to Stop Fraud campaign advice is to:

  • STOP: Taking a moment to stop and think before parting with your money or information could keep you safe.
  • CHALLENGE: Could it be fake? It’s ok to reject, refuse or ignore any requests. Only criminals will try to rush or panic you.
  • PROTECT: Contact your bank immediately if you think you’ve fallen for a scam and report it to Action Fraud.

Notes to Editors

  • Read more about Take Five to Stop Fraud and how to protect yourself from Impersonation Scams here:
  • OnePoll interviewed 2,000 UK adults in an online survey from 18 August to 22 August 2023.
  • Take Five to Stop Fraud is a national campaign that offers straightforward and impartial advice to help everyone protect themselves from preventable financial fraud.
  • UK Finance is the collective voice for the banking and finance industry. Representing more than 300 firms across the industry, we act to enhance competitiveness, support customers and facilitate innovation.

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Scam warning: Criminals may purport to be from Take Five, using our official branding on websites, social media posts, literature, on the phone or by text. Take Five doesn’t provide endorsement or approval for any products/services and would never call or text anyone.