Millennials are often considered tech-savvy and Internet-literate. We assume they know all the ins and outs of the digital world. For these very reasons, it is widely assumed that they would be the last ones to fall prey to scams.
However, a recent study by the Better Business Bureau shows that the young and the savvy in our midst are actually more susceptible to scams when compared to the older generation.
The study showed that more than 30 percent of the 25- to 34-year-old group surveyed had fallen prey to fraud, and for those between the ages of 18 and 24, a whopping 15 percent claim to have been victims of a scam. By comparison, the 75+ age group comprised less than 5 percent of scam victims.
So, why is it that millennials are getting scammed at such a high rate, regardless of their perceived technological know-how?
1. They believe they're invincible
They may not consciously do so, or may not even know that they believe so, but millennials believe they are invincible. They believe that it is not easy to scam them.
The study shows that people assume that scam victims are elderly, less educated, low-income earners, less intelligent and less secure financially.
This factor falsely makes millennials believe that they are more secure. They think that scams are for "other" people and not themselves. Therefore, they end up making bad decisions and taking more risks.
On the other hand, the old, who are portrayed as scam victims by most online media, are less impulsive. They take their time before making decisions and are way more cautious.
2. Millennials make more purchases online
Most people are scammed online at some point or another. Notably, most online purchases are made by millennials. This definitely means that most millennials end up getting scammed as compared to baby boomers and senior citizens.
Apart from shopping online, millennials also tend to spend more time online. Most of them go online on their phones 15 minutes after waking up. They are also online at night just before they sleep. This adds to making them very comfortable with the internet. They feel that it's hard for them to get caught up by online scams. Scammers thrive on personal information. It makes it easier to plan their scamming strategy. Millennials easily post their personal information online, thus giving scammers this added advantage over them. This study shows that in the U.S., 51 percent of millennials share their information in exchange for a promised incentive.
Millennials are also constantly exposed to other internet risks. They easily check their financial accounts online, even when using public Wi-Fi. They don't password protect their devices. Many millennials store information about their bank accounts on their phones. A study by Norton showed that 18 to 34-year olds are highly likely to share passwords when compared to any other age group - increasing their exposure to scams.
3. They embrace a culture of sharing everything
Millennials have a culture of sharing everything. You'll see them sharing almost everything that happens in their lives in text, images and video.
This sometimes boils down to even sharing passwords and other critical personal details. With constant sharing, the element of trust increases between people connected online, even if they've never met. This opens them up to the risk of scams and identity theft. Smart scammers may pose as very useful connections, only to end up taking advantage of the unsuspecting victims.
4. They fall for job scams
There has been a significant increase in the number of people who telecommute. In the U.S., only 9 percent of the people used to telecommute in 1995, compared to 37 percent today according to Gallup. The proliferation of these online job positions has come with an increase in work-from-home-scams. Millennials form the biggest part of those scammed through these online job scams.
A survey done by FlexJobs showed that out of 2600 workers, 20 percent of millennials were scammed while looking for work-from-home jobs. The survey showed that for every legitimate job, there are 60-70 scams.
5. They want to appear generous
Generosity is good. This is even further encouraged by the culture of sharing everything. Crowdfunding sites keep coming with a promise of helping the needy.
Smart scammers know this and they're also pretending to be needy so that they can take advantage of people's generosity. Some scammers have even solicited monetary donations supposedly for a good cause, but instead, they pocket those donations. Scammers and hackers have even stolen credit (or debit) card details and identities so as to fleece people further.
What to do to protect yourself
Things are much better for all of us when everyone is safe. However, scammers really are out there and they get smarter every day. Millennials seem to be highly likely to fall victim to these hackers due to the reasons detailed above.
The good news is that millennials can actually protect themselves better than other age groups can - because they know how to implement the safety guidelines better than any other demographics - using the above methods. Merchants should also avoid turning away millennials and other potential clients, but instead implement and use safe methods to ensure that both sides are protected from fraud, without losing out on profits.