Barclays is on a mission to educate and protect young people from becoming the victims of financial scams.

It is expanding its LifeSkills programme, which gives young people the skills they need to get into work, to highlight the dangers of financial fraud.

This is in response to what Barclays calls an “explosion” of scams targeting school children and students.

Fraud prevention service Cifas said there were 17,040 instances of ‘misuse of facilities’ fraud, where an account is misused by the genuine account holder, recorded in the first half of the year.

More than 4,000 of these account holders were under 21, up from just over 2,000 a year ago.

Barclays said young people are becoming “money mules” by handing over their bank details and allowing someone to make a money transfer in exchange for cash – a scam known as ‘deets and squares’ (deets being slang for details and square being a credit or debit card).

Being an accessory to fraud in this way could lead to the loss of banking facilities, a ruined credit rating and even a prison sentence.

Crooks are using ever more sophisticated tactics to trick youngsters into handing over their bank details.

Ashok Vaswani, CEO, Barclays
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As of this week, schools and colleges that have signed up for LifeSkills have access to new resources to help young people spot when they are being targeted by fraudsters and how to avoid being tricked into sharing their details.

Speaking at the launch of the new LifeSkills resources at the City of Bristol College, Barclays CEO Ashok Vaswani said: “Crooks are using ever more sophisticated tactics to trick youngsters into handing over their bank details.

“It’s alarming that our young people are being increasingly targeted in schools and colleges, and aren’t aware of the dangers and implications of this crime.

“Young people need to be wary of anyone approaching them with the promise of cash for the use of their bank account.

“Through our LifeSkills programme, we want to help raise awareness amongst young people of the risks they face and give them with the tools to stay safe.”

Barclays’ tips for parents to help their children avoid falling victim to a scam are:

  • Go through their bank statements with them regularly. Can they account for every transaction
  • Make sure they know never to give anyone else their online PIN, passcode or password, even to someone claiming to be from the police or their bank
  • If they unexpectedly come home with new clothes, phones or other items they can’t account for, ask where the money came from
  • Explain that letting someone else use your bank account, however plausible their reasons sound, is a potentially serious criminal offence that could damage their financial future – it could mean that they won’t be able to open a new bank account or get credit, a mortgage, or even a mobile phone contract
  • Teach them this simple rule of thumb about offers of easy money: if it looks too good to be true, it almost certainly is