More millennials than seniors losing money to scams
Published: Mar 4, 2018 6:03 p.m. ET
The amount of money lost to fraud increased 7% last year
Forget the cliché of the vulnerable senior citizen falling victim to scammers — a larger share of young people reported that they lost money to fraud than older individuals did in 2017.
Among consumers ages 20 to 29, 40% of those who made fraud complaints to the Federal Trade Commission lost money, compared with just 18% of those who were ages 70 and older, according to an annual report from the federal agency released Thursday.
The report examined consumer complaints made to the FTC in 2017. Roughly 2.68 million consumers complained to the Federal Trade Commission about fraud in 2017, down from 2.98 million people the year prior. The largest share of complaints overall came from people between the ages of 60 and 69 — this group represented 19% of the reports the FTC received last year.
Who are fraud victims?
Research has shown that younger consumers might actually be more vulnerable to scams. Although the popular image of a fraud victim is someone who’s less educated or older, in fact the opposite is often true. People between the ages of 25 and 34 were the most likely to lose money to fraud, according to a 2016 study from the Better Business Bureau. And more than half of those who suffered a fraud-related financial loss had a college degree.
Also see: Steve Wozniak had $70,000 in bitcoin stolen after falling for a simple, yet perfect, scam
Riskier online behavior
Part of the problem, especially where young people are concerned, is the so-called “optimism bias”: Young people assume that others are at a higher risk of fraud, so they take more risks online. Other research has shown young people are more inclined to share personal information online such as their e-mail address or mother’s maiden name than older generations.
Plus, younger consumers may be less familiar with what a scam looks like, said Monica Vaca, associate director of the FTC’s Division of Consumer Response and Operations. “Older consumers are doing a really good job recognizing fraud when they encounter it,” Vaca said. “They’re taking the next step to warn other people about it.”
Seniors pay more when they’re duped
While younger people might be more likely to be duped, older individuals will suffer a greater loss when they are defrauded.