Gen Z Face Higher Risk of Cyber Scams Than Older Generations

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Younger Australians are more likely to fall victim to scams, fraud, attacks, and identity crime than older age groups, according to the Australian Federal Police (AFP). The AFP warned that Generation Z (born between 1997 and 2012) have a higher risk of cyber scams due to their extensive online presence. Despite being considered the most tech-savvy age group, AFP Cybercrime Acting Commander Grace Calma said that Gen Z continue to be deceived by cybercriminals. She said that young people often get tricked into downloading malware disguised as links in emails or pop-ups offering free music, games, or video downloads. Therefore, she advised Gen Z to be cautious about online shopping scams during the festive season. “An online shopping scam involves cyber criminals creating realistic but fake online stores selling items at heavily reduced prices or fake ads on legitimate classified websites,” she explained. “Once a buyer places an order, items are either not delivered or fake products are received in their place.” She noted that young people order a range of items online, and scams can target anything, from food to music and clothing. People aged 25-34, at 24.4 percent, were the second-highest group to fall victim. In contrast, those aged 65 years and older (20.3 percent) and 50-64 years (18.5 percent) had the lowest likelihood of falling to scams. A survey of 2,100 business owners and employees and found that Gen Z employees showed less awareness and competence in cybersecurity compared to their older counterparts, despite growing up in a digital age. The research indicated that Gen X and upper Millennials in their 30s were more likely to take cybersecurity seriously. The Council of Small Business Organisations Australia Chairman Matthew Addison cautioned small business owners against assuming that younger individuals are automatically the most secure regarding online activities. “For example, cryptocurrency investments and payments have a high participation rate from younger audiences but are still highly unregulated by governments.” This may be because Gen Z have particular traits that lead them to be at risk, according to Cybersecurity Manager Arathi Arakala. “Gen Z and Millennials are more risk-tolerant, curious to learn new things and open to unconventional ideas—all traits that can expose them to deceptive practices,” Ms. Arakala said. He explained this “deep-seated comfort” causes youth to be confident and overlook potential threats. “Many young people tend to have an inherent trust in online platforms, which can blind them to potential pitfalls,” he said. While he acknowledged that the internet is a scammer hotbed, he said this does not necessarily mean young people are more gullible. “Instead, it reflects the ever-expanding techniques that online scammers use in today’s digital landscape.” He said modern internet scammers are skilled and knowledgeable, consistently improving their tactics to target psychological vulnerabilities in young people.

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