Younger generations may shake their heads in disbelief that their parents and grandparents fall for a cyber scam. But maybe those younger people can learn a thing or two about cyber-crime from their elders.
Millennials, Generation X, and Generation Z are more susceptible to scams than their predecessors. In some cases, more than twice as likely to get swindled by cyber scammers.
It’s true, according to both the Federal Trade Commission and the Better Business Bureau. In multiple studies and based on reported crimes, Millennials and Gen Z get scammed way more than their grandparents.
And different scams work better with different age demographics.
Baby boomers and older are more likely to fall for financial and computer scams. These are generally over the phone by callers who say there’s something wrong with their computer and demand you give them remote access to fix it. Instead, the scammer installs malware or ransomware or steals personal information. Seniors are also more likely to send scammers money using gift cards.
Boomers may lose the most money, but they don’t get scammed as often as their kids.
People in their 20s and 30s are more than twice as likely to be swindled according to multiple surveys. Millennials are most likely to fall for shopping scams, employment scams, romance scams, and maybe most surprising, scams where the caller pretends to be someone from the government.
I’ve personally heard from a surprisingly large number of 20-somethings who’ve fallen hook-line-and-sinker for the elaborate scam where the caller says their social security number was used to rent a car that was later involved in a crime.
Millennials are more likely to give the scammer their social security number, address, and full name. The scammer can steal their identity and take out a credit card in their name.
This scam starts with a phone call. The person on the other end of the line claims they’re a law enforcement officer (often from Texas). They explain someone rented a car using your credit card number, name, and social security number and say you must handle this right away or they’ll send someone to arrest you.
I’ve taken one of these phone calls to see where the scam leads. The first person on the other end of the call gives their name and badge number and asks you to write it down. They ask for your legal name and birthdate and social security number to “confirm”.
Once that information is given, they’ll say they’re going to let you talk to their supervisor who again, asks for all of that information. It does sound very official. The scammers use fear to lead the victim to give up all of the information.
Once they have your personal information, they might ask you to send them money, and gift cards are the best way to transfer money since they have no charges or fees and the payment can be made quickly.
The scammer then directs you to a nearby store to buy the gift card or cards and implore you to stay on the phone with them the whole time. If you go through with purchasing the gift card, they’ll ask for the numbers. Once that is done, the money is gone and there is no way to.
Teens and pre-teens are targeted using sextortion scams. Someone they meet online, on social media, or video game communities, asks for nude photos and then threatens to share them with all of their friends unless they send money in the form of gift cards or through Venmo and the Cash app.
The FBI says it received over 16,000 sextortion complaints in the first half of last year with more than $8 million dollars in losses.
I should point out, that number of incidents and money involved is just from reported incidents. Hundreds of thousands are likely never reported. Warn your family members, the bad guys know which scams work, and they’re targeting anyone of any age who goes online.