Four of five Hongkongers encounter digital scams

Top News | Winnie Lee 22 Oct 2020

Four out of five Hongkongers have been targets of digital fraud, a study shows.

The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation's survey found that 83 percent of residents have been hit by digital fraud attempts.

Among them, 26 percent have fallen prey to scams and lost HK$3,800 on average.

The survey was conducted in August and September, with a sample size of 800 respondents aged 18 to 55.

The survey found that bogus calls and scammers impersonating officials are the top two most common scams in Hong Kong.

One in 10 for the two scenarios were tricked out of more than HK$1,000.

Social-engineering techniques are commonly used in many fraud situations, "whether it be developing a romantic relationship with victims or exploiting the human tendency of obeying figures of authority," according to the survey.

Unraveling data, romance and digital-payment scams caused the heftiest monetary loss.

Romance rackets swindled an average of HK$4,100 - the highest among all fraud scenarios - while digital-payment scams netted HK$2,500 on average.

Twenty-six percent of the surveyed people were the target of attempted digital payment scams.

In romance scams, one in three respondents were the targets, with 7 percent suffering a financial loss.

If interviewees disclosed personal information and online banking information to others, the chance of being defrauded doubled, the survey said.

Also, thirty percent were the targets of job scams.

Among these, 6 percent of them fell into the trap, which caused a HK$1,800 loss on average.

The survey emphasized that two key pieces of information - online banking credentials and one-time passwords -should never be shared with unverified individuals. Sharing either of these can double the risk of fraud.

Forty-eight percent of respondents had shared passwords with other parties during the past 12 months, while 38 percent provided their online banking credentials.

In age categories, Gen Z respondents - those who are 18 to 24 years old - appear to be digitally knowledgeable but are more vulnerable to digital-payment and job scams, in which they have a stronger tendency to share important personal information.

Gen Y - 25 to 39 years old - are more prone to romance scams because of their willingness to share identity numbers, passwords and bank account numbers with their online partner.

Gen X - 40 to 55 years old - are more easily victimized by impersonation scams and bogus calls.

winnie.lee@singtaonewscorp.com

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