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Scams Targeting Millennials Becoming More Common

October 31, 2019


One of the descriptors most commonly attributed to millennials is "tech-savvy." Coming of age in the late 90's and early 00's, during the Information Age and the rise of social media, we think of millennials as "plugged in" and exceptionally cognizant of how to navigate the internet. Consequently, one would assume millennials are skilled at avoiding the pitfalls of an increasingly connected world.

However, millennials are just as vulnerable to scams as previous generations. In fact, millennials are twice as likely as people 40 or older to report losing money while shopping online and 77% more likely to report losing money to an email scam. Even more worrying, Generation Y is 93% more likely than people age 40 or older to fall victim to fake check scams. According to the FTC, millennials reported losing nearly $450 million to fraud since 2017, with $71 million the result of online shopping scams alone.

The basics of these fraud schemes are familiar, but utilize new technology in ways that make them more difficult to recognize. Here are some schemes that scammers are using and how you can avoid becoming a victim:

Fake Employment Offers

Finding a job can be stressful and many millennials are willing to look past some red flags if it means landing a well-paying job. Here's how it works: the scammer will offer a position to their target, often with great pay, then send them a fake cashier's check to purchase equipment needed for the job. The best way to avoid these types of scams: if you're sent a large check from someone you don't know well, always check with the financial institution on any check you cash to make sure the check is real.

Device Activation Scams

Millennials are the generation of smart phones, iPads, and Alexa. Scammers know this, which is why one of the most common scams involves sending an email alerting the consumer of an activation fee for their new device. The scammer includes a fake customer support number or creates a fake website that looks like the actual product website, where the consumer is asked to provide credit card and device information to pay the activation fee. Not only does this give the scammer access to your device, it will also give them access to your identity.

The best way to avoid this: most devices don't require an activation fee! Device activation is usually handled at the point of sale, rather than in a follow-up email. If you're still unsure (or if you receive a suspicious email asking you to call a customer support number or visit a website to enter personal information in general), you should visit the manufacturer's website directly instead of clicking any links or calling numbers in suspicious emails.

Social Media Scams

It is true that millennials are much better at avoiding scams that involve phone and email. However, when the same scams are attempted through social media, 53% of consumers report having lost money to fraud. Because we share so much on social media, scammers are better able to find vulnerable consumers, such as those who are lonely or recently experienced a loss, or younger adults feeling financial pressure. Always be skeptical of offers made through social media, doubly so if you don't know the person contacting you.

Social media can actually help you avoid these scams; if you suspect a scam, search social media to see if others have encountered something similar. People often post warnings about scams after they've become victims. While the internet has provided scammers increased access to consumers, it has also given consumers access to knowledge to fight back against fraud.

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