18-34 year olds most likely to lose money to purchase scams

3 minutes

Research from our Wealth and Wellbeing Research Programme* highlights that more young adults are reporting scams than older consumers and many are losing money to purchase fraud. In fact, our Spring/Summer 2024 research showed that of the 3.8m people who lost money to a purchase scam last year, 86% are under 55.

When we look at other kinds of scams, further data also revealed that 42% of UK adults have received phishing scams in the last 12 months, just over a third (36%) have experienced a trusted organisation scam and around a quarter (24%) have experienced a refund scam.

Older consumers seem to have experienced fewer financial scams over the last 12 months than others. For example, 42% of those aged 18 to 34 say they have experienced a trusted organisation scam vs 30% of those aged 65+.

Figure 1 Data from LV= Wealth and Wellbeing Spring Summer 2024 Report

However, data from the Spring/Summer 2024 edition of our Wealth and Wellbeing report shows that people aged 18-34 are more likely than any other age group to be a victim of a financial scam. Respondents surveyed as part of our research were asked if they had lost money to any of the following types of scams:

  • Phishing scams e.g. fake emails, calls or messages asking for personal/financial information
  • Trusted organisation scams e.g. impersonation of trusted organisations such as HMRC or other service providers saying there is a problem, or you owe a fine or similar
  • Refund scams e.g. impersonation of a trusted organisation saying you are due a refund
  • Friend or family scams - messages sent to you claiming to be someone you know asking for money urgently
  • Get rich quick scams – promises that you’ll make money quickly by investing in a company or goods
  • Purchase scams – purchase of fake goods or services via online advertisements for items such as tickets, holidays, vehicles etc.
  • Investment scams - investing money into fake opportunities or pyramid schemes
  • Befriending scams – fake accounts on social media building a friendship and then asking for money

As our report shows, a higher proportion of those aged 18-34 fell victim to each of these scams and lost money because of them.

Why are younger people more susceptible to scams?

Data from Ofcom2 has shown that those aged 18- 24 typically spend the largest amount of time online (4 hours 36 minutes daily average) compared to their parents' generations or elderly relatives. This higher rate of online activity could be making younger people more susceptible to scams as they have more chance of being exposed to them.

Figure 2 Data from LV Wealth and Wellbeing Report 16

When it comes to knowing what to do when you’ve received a suspected financial scam, almost 1 in 10 (9%) say they wouldn’t know what to do next while half of all UK adults would contact their bank or financial provider if they suspected they’d received a financial scam. However, two in five UK adults (39%) would search for more information online. In England, Wales and Northern Ireland, those who have experienced a financial scam can report it to Action Fraud, the UK’s national reporting centre for fraud and cybercrime, who deal with these cases on behalf of the police.

The emotional impact of fraud

Being a fraud victim causes emotional distress as well as the more obvious financial loss and potential for impact on future loans. Action Fraud data3 shows that phone calls and web forms triggering concerns for wellbeing account for up to 6% of the 300,000 reports they receive each year.

As well as this 6%, in the 11 months between January and November 2020, Action Fraud received 241 phone calls where a threat to life was flagged, meaning emergency call operatives had to remain on the phone to the caller until emergency services arrived.

Home Office research on victims4 who reported their fraud to Action Fraud found that, 9 to 22 months later, 41% of those reporting self-harm still felt the effects, as did 39% of those reporting depression, 22% feelings of fear and 18% reporting anxiety.

What to do if you spot a suspected scam

There are many ways to report scams and it's important to do so.

Social media: use the 'Report post' or 'Report ad' option and select ‘Misleading or scam’ or 'Frauds and scams', depending which platform you are using.

Websites: report a suspicious website to the National Cyber Security Centre.

Emails: forward scam emails to [email protected]. Learn more at You can also report scams directly to your email provider using the 'Report spam' or 'Report phishing' buttons.

Text messages and phone calls: forward scam texts to 7726, a free reporting service provided by telecoms companies. You can also report scam calls via your mobile phone by to 7726. Learn more at

Adverts: Report scam or misleading adverts to the Advertising Standards Authority. You can report adverts found online, including in search engines, websites or on social media.

Your bank, or any official source, will never ask you to supply personal information via email or text message.

What to do if you think you've been a victim of a scam

If you are a victim of fraud or suspect fraud, then you should report it to Action Fraud. They will be able to best assist you in your next steps and they can provide advice specific to your situation and the type of fraud you have been a victim of.

Learn more about how we fight financial crime and how to protect yourself.

Notes on our data