One-Fifth of Adults at ‘Significant’ Risk of Internet Fraud due to Oversharing on Social Media

A study has revealed that one-fifth of adults have put themselves at a ‘significant’ risk of internet fraud by oversharing personal information on social media. The research, conducted by Lloyds Bank and involving 2,000 adults, found that individuals commonly share personal details such as birthday dates, pet names, phone numbers, and even home addresses.

Surprisingly, despite this behavior, 29 percent of adults believe they will never fall victim to online fraud, displaying overconfidence that could lead to financial loss. The study also highlighted that 30 percent of participants have no idea if the data they upload to platforms like Twitter and Facebook could leave them vulnerable to cybercrime.

To illustrate how easily fraudsters can access personal data, Lloyds Bank collaborated with barbershop Johnny’s Chop Shop to conduct an eye-opening experiment. In a video, barbers gradually revealed increasingly personal information about their unsuspecting customers during casual conversations. Unbeknownst to the customers, the data was extracted directly from their social media accounts.

Paul Davis, retail fraud director at Lloyds Bank, emphasized that scammers are becoming more sophisticated and highlighted the false confidence exhibited by many individuals, particularly men, who believe they won’t become victims of fraud. Social media profiles serve as a window for scammers searching for their next targets, making it crucial for everyone to consider the protections they have in place to stay safe online.

The study also found that 81 percent of adults are confident in their ability to spot signs of fraud, with more men (85 percent) than women (78 percent) believing they can identify potential scam attempts. However, one in ten participants were unaware of common scams, and a quarter did not keep up with the latest methods employed by criminals to defraud victims.

Industry figures revealed that during the first half of 2020, there were approximately 1.4 million cases of online fraud, resulting in financial losses totaling £582.1 million. Alarmingly, 25 percent of participants were unaware of who can see their social media posts, and 12 percent did not know how to adjust their privacy settings to prevent strangers from accessing their information.

Despite these findings, the study also revealed that a third of adults accepted friend or follow requests from people they had never met. Among the 300 or so Facebook friends surveyed, only 28 percent were individuals they knew in real life.

Following the experiment, Steven Ross, co-founder of Johnny’s Chop Shop, expressed surprise at the extent to which people expose themselves to fraud by oversharing on social media. The barbershop aimed to draw attention to this issue by having conversations about personal information in a barbershop setting.

The study serves as a reminder for individuals to be cautious about the personal information they share online and to be aware of potential scams. Lloyds Bank, an official partner of the Friends Against Scams initiative and supporter of the M-word campaign, provides tips on social media safety, including being mindful of personal information shared online, scrutinizing requests from unfamiliar individuals, and regularly reviewing privacy settings.

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