When online scams first started, scammers used to only target those who were 50 and older. As time went on, they started targeting all age groups with various types of scams and schemes, leaving those who are younger more vulnerable to scams. Since those who are younger think that only older people get scammed, they think they are invincible to the dangers of online scams that plague social media and dating platforms. Younger people also expose their information to quizzes and statuses on social media, not realizing the consequences of these actions. In this article, I will go over the statistics on how much younger people are more at risk of being scammed and how they can avoid these online scams.
Younger People Are More At Risk of Being Scammed Than Ever Before
According to the Wall Street Journal, 56.6% of 18-24-year-olds who were exposed to a scam ended up losing money. This is compared to 31.9% of 65+-year-olds who lost money to an online scam. Seniors tend to fall for scams with a higher dollar amount, such as investment scams or romance scams but are most likely to be skeptical about making their personal information public to everyone on social media.
However, most younger people think that they are invincible to scams and don’t think it would ever happen to them, since they think scammers only target older people. This isn’t the case anymore, scammers will target anyone who has a dollar to their name. Younger people are most likely to fall for identity theft, romance scams, sextortion scams, online shopping scams, and data breaches since they are more careless about who has their personal information. We live in a day and age where it’s “the trend” to post statuses about our lives and make our personal details public to the world.
How Can Scammers Use Online Statuses Against the Younger Generation?
Let’s say we post a status chain that our friends are making viral on “All About Me.” We post that we have a dog named Sparky, we like the color pink, we grew up in a specific town, and we love watching all Nicholas Sparks movies on Netflix on a rainy day. While this may be fun to share all these details with our friends, a scammer can look at all these details and use them to answer security questions for all your personal accounts, such as a bank account, an online store account, or an email linked to all these accounts. This is how younger people are more at risk of being scammed.
You might be thinking “What if my account is private?” While a scammer can’t access your statuses if you set it to “Friends Only” or post on a private account, they can still trick you into adding them on social media profiles. With just one message claiming that you’re the most gorgeous person on the planet, it might be enough to let your walls down and have them on your friends’ list.
Then as they get to know you, they can ask for money or use your information for identity theft. A friend could also screenshot your posts and make them public information without you knowing it. It’s always good to have the expectation that no matter what your privacy settings are, expect that everything on social media is public information.
Younger People Are More At Risk of Being Scammed With These Scams
Aliza Vigderman of Security.org surveyed more than 700 U.S. adults and found that 15% of adults 18-29-years-old are more likely to be victims of identity theft as opposed to 8% of those who are 45-years-old and older. This is due to the fact that young adults are more likely to put their information on the Internet than someone who is older than 45-years-old. They are also more likely to give away their information to surveys and phishing emails since they don’t realize how valuable their information is.
However, scammers can use people’s personal information to apply for credit cards, access financial details on online accounts, or even gain access to a bank account if we aren’t careful. They can use even the slightest bit of information about us to answer security questions and gain access to a personal account, then change the password so that we can no longer access it. If you enter your social security number on an online form from an unofficial website, they can use this to open credit lines and steal all your funds. This is why it is important to keep as much information about yourself as you can private.
Younger people rely heavily on online dating in order to find the person of their dreams, especially during a worldwide pandemic. What used to be a world where people interact with one another in order to look for someone to date, now we stare at our phone screens and ignore the people around us. It seems like the only way to date someone is through the lens of our phone screens as we swipe left or right on various dating apps, which means younger people are more at risk of being scammed.
While this seems like an effective way to meet someone, there are many romance scammers that plague these apps. They create fake profiles using photos and personalities from public accounts and social media influencers. Then, they go onto dating apps and swipe right on as many people as they can until they get a match. Once they get a match, they message their victim telling them how gorgeous they are.
Then once the victim falls in love with the scammer and the scammer gains their trust, the scammer comes up with excuses as to why they need money. The victim gives them money, and the scammer keeps coming up with reasons as to why they need more money until the victim’s bank account is drained.
Sometimes younger people aren’t looking for their soulmate, but instead are looking for a one-night fling. Scammers take advantage of these wants too, as they create fake profiles using girls’ explicit images from OnlyFans or Snapchat. They target guys on dating apps that are looking to “get lucky” with another girl on the dating app. The girl lures the guy to texting, claiming that she doesn’t like using the app to text.
As they are texting, the girl sends photos of herself and encourages the guy to do the same. The guy sends her explicit photos, which then gives the girl leverage for blackmail. The girl threatens the victim and claims that if he doesn’t send her money that his explicit photos will be sent to his family members, friends, and the rest of the Internet.
The guy gets scared and sends her money to avoid this, but she continues to beg for more. He continues to send more money and thinks that he has enough to buy himself out of this. However, no amount of money he sends will ever be good enough for her. She will continue to ask for his funds until he goes bankrupt.
There is also a minor version of this scam, where the girl claims she is sixteen and her supposed father gets involved. The fake father claims that if you don’t send money that he would file charges to the police and send them after you, which isn’t true.
Online Shopping Scams
The younger generation relies heavily on online shopping since they grew up with a computer making them more tech-savvy, which makes younger people are more at risk of being scammed. Because of this, scammers know that they can get their hands on the victims’ bank accounts if they create fake websites that look like online shops. Victims realize that there’s a sale happening on this website and notice that the item they want is at a too-good-to-resist price.
They go onto the fake website to purchase the item and are directed to a legit-looking checkout page, requesting that they fill out their personal and financial information. Once they do this, they state that their item is on the way but there is no confirmation email to prove this. After a few days of waiting, they go on the website to find it shut down and realize that they lost out on their money.
The younger generation is one to create one password for all accounts so that they have an easier time remembering it. We are also more likely to create more online accounts since we use the Internet more often than those who are older. However, creating more accounts with one password means there is more of a likelihood that scammers can access all of our online accounts if our password was ever exposed in a data breach.
A data breach is when information from a particular website is exposed on the dark web, giving access to a lot of victims’ accounts. Anyone can be at risk for a data breach for one online account, but there are many people who are at risk of getting multiple accounts hacked into if they only use one password for everything. It can start by getting a password to your Facebook account, which they can use to log into your email account. Then, they can find all accounts associated with that email and access everything you own just by using that one password. This is why we are more at risk for data breaches.
Younger People Are More At Risk of Being Scammed: So How Can We Avoid These Scams?
Do not give money to someone on the Internet whom you have never met in person.
Do not give out your personal information to someone with whom you are talking online.
- Keep updated with resources, such as the State of Internet Scams 2021 Scam Guide.
Do not trust that someone is who they say they are without at least video chatting with them or meeting them in person first.
If they have a job overseas, this is a huge red flag that they might be a scammer since they usually use this as an excuse to not see you or video chat with you.
If someone is randomly contacting you out of the blue on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter, it usually means that a scammer is on the other side.
Make sure to have a password manager to create many passwords for your accounts. This will prevent scammers from easily guessing your passwords.
Use AI technology to find scam emails before they can fool you into thinking they are real.
Search up your email on our email address reverse search to make sure your information hasn’t been compromised by a data breach.
If you have been a victim of identity theft, please report your case to IdentityTheft.gov for further assistance in recovering your identity.
Report any scam that you have been a part of immediately to the FTC, IC3, and FBI.
Social Catfish is Here to Help You!
At Social Catfish, we want to help you verify the identities of those who might seem suspicious to you. If you have their name, email address, phone number, social media username, or image, you can reverse search and see who the suspected person was that you’ve been in contact with after reading how younger people are more at risk of being scammed. Also, make sure to report any scam that you have been a victim of to the FTC. They will provide you with excellent resources that will help you recover financially and emotionally.