London,
12
October
2014
|
00:00
Europe/London

EE launches campaign to raise awareness of “easy money” scams targeting students

  • New research reveals young people do not understand consequences of mobile phone fraud
  • Three quarters of students do not understand or even think they have a credit rating
  • Despite this, 80% of 18-24 year-olds surveyed would be worried if they had a bad credit rating

Monday 13th October, 2014, London – EE, the UK’s most advanced digital communications company, has launched a campaign aimed at warning young people against falling prey to ‘easy money’ mobile phone scams and reducing mobile phone fraud.

Figures from EE highlight that in some university towns as many as one in 10 new mobile phone contracts taken out can be fraudulent, as students fall prey to an increasingly sophisticated scam. New research from EE reveals that 18-24 year olds  do not understand the short and long term financial impact of putting their names to fraudulent accounts.

Here’s how the scam works:

  • Conmen target students with a sophisticated pitch about how they can make easy money
  • Students are told that they can take out a mobile plan and sell the valuable handset, and that no-one will chase them for the money owed on the contract
  • Students are given official-looking forms to fill in, which ask for personal information, including bank details
  • Scammers give the students a small sum (as little as £50) for a brand new handset worth hundreds
  • Students are even rewarded for referring their friends
  • Fraudsters then use the students’ personal details to open more accounts, without their knowledge and adding to the debt

Emmanuel Laffont, Head of Credit Risk & Fraud at EE, said: “A significant amount of mobile phone handset fraud is committed almost unwittingly by naïve students who may not understand both the short and long term consequences of their actions. Scammers know that some students may also not necessarily understand credit ratings, and look to take advantage of them by tempting them with ‘easy money’ – we urge them to think that if it sounds too good to be true, it most likely is. Young people must learn to be more aware of their financial status and not take needless risks with their financial futures.”

Research published today by EE reveals how students have little understanding of the the long-term impact - seven out of ten young people do not understand what credit ratings are, even though eight out of 10 would actually be worried if they discovered that they have a bad credit rating.

EE commissioned research via ICM of 1,000 people aged 18 – 24 to better understand why students are so ready to engage in mobile phone fraud.

Key findings show:

  • Almost nine in ten (87%) of 18 year olds don’t think that they have a credit rating or don’t even know what one is
  • Even amongst those respondents who know they have a credit rating, over 60% do not know what their credit rating actually is
  • 73% of those surveyed do worry about their ability to secure financial loans in the future
  • Only 9% of respondents knew how long a negative mark lasts for

Illustrating the handset fraud problem, EE asked respondents, “If somebody offered you several hundred pounds today, but it means you’ll get a negative mark on your credit rating, how long would you be prepared to have that negative mark appear for?” Only 1% of people would be prepared to have that negative mark appear for as long as it actually lasts for, and 47% wouldn’t want a negative mark at all.

Selected regional breakdown of survey results:

  • Respondents in Wales are the least aware of credit ratings – just 17% think that they have a credit rating, compared to the national average of 27%
    Respondents in Wales are the least likely to know what their credit rating actually is – 83% didn’t know, or weren’t sure how to find out their credit rating, compared to the national average of 69%
    Of those who knew that they have a credit rating, respondents in the East of England are the least likely to know what their credit rating actually is - only 13% knew, compared to the national average of 38%
    Only 3% of respondents in London were correct about how long a negative mark lasts for

To help students to understand credit ratings and steer clear of scams, EE stores near select major universities will distribute educational leaflets. The full text is available below. EE is also working with the National Mobile Phone Crime Unit to help to educate and protect students from this type of fraud.

Detective Inspector Louise Shea, National Mobile Phone Crime Unit, commented, “The National Mobile Phone Crime Unit (NMPCU) advises students to be extremely cautious when entering into mobile phone contracts with anyone other than a reputable company. Never divulge your personal information in response to a direct approach unless you are certain that the request is from a reliable source. This could include an approach in person, or by email, text, letter or phone call. It is easy to be lured into a scam with the promise of quick cash or a great deal, but if it sounds too good to be true, it almost certainly will be. We strongly recommend that you register any serial numbered property, such as mobile phones, tablets and laptops for free at www.immobilise.com. For further valuable advice on crime prevention or for more information about our work, please visit www.nmpcu.police.uk.”

-ENDS-

Notes to editors:

Survey conducted in August 2014 by ICM on behalf of EE, with 1,000 respondents from across the UK aged 18 - 24