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What You Didn’t Know About the Young and Fraud

by | Apr 25, 2024 | Education

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Quick question: if a scammer was trying to pull off a con on two groups of people, one aged 13-21, and one aged 55+, which group is more prone to loss?

If you’d guess the aged 55+ group, you might want to reconsider.

Though they have never known a time when tech was not a huge part of their lives, it might be wise for today’s emerging adults to learn that their parents may actually know a thing or two about life. 

A recent study by online investigators, Social Catfish, found that no age group has seen a bigger surge in money lost due to online scams than people under age 21. From 2017 to 2022, the money lost by Gen Z grew 2500%, compared to 805% for seniors. Of course, in actual dollars lost, GenZ’s lower savings and earnings capacity makes for less money to lose. In 2022, GenZ lost a combined $210 million, while seniors amassed a loss totaling $3.1 billion! 

Regardless, the rise in loss among GenZ is a concerning trend. Here’s what you need to know about teens and scams.

Why are teens more likely to fall for scams?

One reason Gen Z may not be able to spot scams is because many of them had their own Facebook account before they were out of diapers – and this is hardly an exaggeration. They’ve been encouraged to interact with strangers online and share details of their lives since they’ve been old enough to type. Is it any wonder, then, that they sometimes share too much information with the wrong people?

Of course, Gen Zers also spend an enormous amount of time online and are more exposed to scams. 

Scams teens fall for the most

  • Online retail scams. According to the Better Business Bureau, 83% of young adults who encounter an online retail scam that’s promising products but actually won’t deliver, will fall for it. 
  • Romance scams. Scammers target teens using stolen photos to build up a fake romance with an unsuspecting mark. When a relationship has formed, the scammer asks the teen for money. 
  • Sextortion scams. Here, a scammer sends explicit photos to teens and asks for one in return. When the teen complies, they’ll threaten to publicize the photo unless the teen pays up. 
  • Student loan scams. Fake websites with pirated Department of Education logos trick students into sharing their personal information.
  • Online gaming scams. In this scam, fraudsters impersonate real vendors selling in-game purchases. They’ll ply victims with phishing links, which give them direct access to the victims’ accounts. 

How to avoid getting scammed

  • Keep the security settings on your devices updated with the most recent patches. 
  • Keep your social media pages private. 
  • Never share personally identifiable information with an unverified contact. 
  • Don’t wire money to an unverified contact. 
  • Thoroughly research the company behind any job you consider. 
  • Never download a link from an unknown source. 
  • Visit sites directly instead of clicking on links embedded in ads. 
  • Choose strong, unique and long passwords for all your accounts. 
  • Be wary of any website, ad or email that features poor writing and/or has lots of typos. 

Use the tips outlined here to stay safe.


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