Santander: four in five (82%) under 30s have fallen for purchase scams

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With Black Friday and Christmas just around the corner, new research from Santander reveals the perils of online shopping, particularly for young adults. Data from the bank shows a staggering four in five (82%) Brits aged 16–29 have been the victim of a purchase scam when shopping online – compared with just over half (57%) among older adults.  To help drive home the scale and sophistication of these scams, Santander has enlisted the help of beauty, lifestyle and showbiz gurus, to come up with a stunt like no other.

Purchase scams – buying something online that either never turns up or is fundamentally different to what was advertised – are responsible for Gen Z and younger millennials losing an average of £625.35; money which they can ill afford to waste, particularly at this time of year.  

Figures from Santander show that one in five (20%) purchase scams relates to health and beauty products and two thirds (62%) of under 30s buy their make-up online. To bring the issue to life, Santander has teamed up with Love Island’s Dani Dyer, Towie’s Lydia Bright and influencers such as Danny Defreitas to create a new online make-up trend: ‘The Invisible Look’.  Each of the influencers will deliver an ‘Invisible Look’ makeup tutorial culminating in an emperor’s new clothes moment, and a warning to followers to be wary of products and prices that sound too good to be true.3

With fraudsters often using social media, online marketplaces and unofficial sites to sell fake and even non-existent merchandise, young people are an obvious target. Santander’s own internal data shows that under 30s account for almost half (45%) of all purchase scams reported to them, with cheaper prices being the ‘bait’ that most regularly hooks them into falling for a scam. Clothing and technology are the items most likely to be scammed.

Chris Ainsley, head of fraud strategy at Santander, commented: “Purchase scams are some of the most common scams out there, last year costing UK consumers over £46 million, and the cost-conscious and online lifestyles of younger adults make them a prime target. Our own data shows 17-30 year olds are more than 80% more likely to fall victim to these scams, compared to 31-45 year olds.

“This time of the year in particular, provides rich pickings for fraudsters, with pressure on people to find the best deals and get ahead on their Christmas shopping. By doing something a bit different and teaming up with beauty influencers, we aim to raise the profile of purchase scams and grab people’s attention before they’re conned by the likes of ‘The Invisible Look’.”

Santander’s research underlines how more education is needed to help young people stay safe when buying online, with half (46%) reporting having gone ahead with a purchase despite being suspicious of the online seller, and not surprisingly four in five (82%) later regretting it.  

What’s more, before they click ‘buy’, Gen Zedders and young millennials aren’t always taking the necessary precautions to protect themselves:

  • 72% don’t check if the URL is secure, by having ‘https’ at the start;
  • 67% fail to look for the padlock sign on the website address;
  • Two thirds (66%) never research the company on independent review sites first; and
  • 74% don’t ask to see the item first when buying a high value product.

Top tips to avoid falling for a purchase scam over the festive period:

S – Secure. Pay for items using secure payment methods, such as PayPal or your debit or credit card.  Avoid paying in cash and where possible, don’t be like almost half (45%) of 19-30 year olds who report paying by bank transfer. 

A – Ads. Question any targeted ads offering too good to be true prices.

F – First time? If it’s your first time buying from a website, check out independent reviews before confirming the purchase.  

E – Engagement. More than one in four (27%) Gen Zedders and young millennials report being directed to a different site to make a payment. If you’re buying something from a reputable site such as eBay, follow their advice and process, and never communicate outside of the site.

T – Try before you buy. If you’re buying a big-ticket item such as a car, make sure you see it in person before making any payment. Don’t feel pressured, like more than a quarter (28%) of younger Brits, to make a payment immediately.

Y – You. If you click on a link in a social media post or via a search engine, play Sherlock and check the URL is secure and compare it to the official brand.

For more information on how to protect yourselves online and for advice, visit: https://www.santander.co.uk/personal/support/fraud-and-security/spotting-fraud-or-scams.