It’s hard being an adult in today’s world. Sometimes it feels like there’s another person waiting around every corner to pull the wool over your eyes.
All across America there are poor, naïve souls being bamboozled, taken for a fool and plain old tricked into giving away money. Scams are more common than you’d like to believe, and you can’t let your guard down, even if you haven’t experienced an attack from scammers.
Scams come in all shapes and sizes — phone calls, emails, pop-up ads and even physical mail. Scammers dream up countless methods to steal your money, each more sophisticated and harder to track. And unfortunately, you’re probably one of their prime targets.
Millennials Are Easy To Fool
This sounds harsh, but Millennials are far too easy to scam. So easy, in fact, that this age group has officially occupied the “helpless old lady” spot on scammers’ prospect lists. If you’re between the ages of 18 to 24, you’re probably caught in their crosshairs.
The Better Business Bureau reported from a recent study that out of 30,000 adults who registered the details of a scam they encountered, only 11% of seniors (age 65 and over) actually lost money. 89% of seniors caught onto the scam in time, and successfully avoided losing any savings.
Conversely, the same study found that 34% of Millennials reported losing money. Three times more adults ages 18 to 24 lost money to scams.
We can attribute this new phenomenon to an “invulnerability illusion,” also called an “optimism bias.” This is the idea that others are far more vulnerable and helpless than you are. The attitude is associated with taking unnecessary risks and failing to take precautions with life decisions in general.
The optimism bias makes Millennials much easier to scam, as it makes them more trusting, and creates a false sense of security in their ability to discern the truthfulness of a situation. In short, it makes them naïve and a bit lazy in protecting their finances and identity.
Ironically, seniors and Baby Boomers are incredibly careful with their finances and identity, because they suspect a threat is around every corner. Millennials are too quick to trust the credibility of a stranger claiming to have their best interests at heart.
As was mentioned above, scams come in all forms. Scammers’ techniques have become more sophisticated as technology itself has evolved, making their scams much harder to identify.
For example, you could receive an email from “PayPal” that tells you about “important account information you need to review immediately” and provides a link for you to follow.
However, if you examine the email closely, you’ll notice a couple of oddities — the email never mentions you by name, doesn’t provide even the smallest documentation of your account or personal information (last four digits of your social security number or account number, etc.), and provides a very vague reason for you to just “check up on your account.”
So obviously, don’t click the link. Ever. These and other red flags should make it clear that the message didn’t actually come from a credible source. You’ve received this email because a scammer knows you have a PayPal account. The link likely contains a worm, or some other way for the scammer to get into your account and take control of it.
If you’re not paying attention, you’ll give someone the easiest access possible to all of your money.
It’s time for you to protect yourself from these scammers — arm yourself with the knowledge and tools to combat their incessant attacks.
Remember that you too have the internet on your side. If you get a call or email from a business claiming to give a great deal, do some research on that business. You’ll most likely find forums or other search results from other people warning about this scam. You can even use this method to inspect specific phone numbers.
No matter what, don’t pay upfront for a promise. Even if you don’t do any research, never give anyone your credit card information or write them a check without verifying their credibility first.
Always ask questions. The deeper you dig, the easier it is to uncover a scam. Scammers always want to catch you off guard and pressure you into making a hasty decision.
If your questions aren’t answered, chances are you’re staring a scam right in the face. A legitimate opportunity should yield clear explanations, but if the person you’re talking to keeps sidestepping your questions, then it’s obviously not the opportunity to you think it.
As a general rule, always be skeptical of any contact that is made from people or businesses you don’t know. Ask pressing questions and don’t give up your personal information.Following these simple rules will equip you for deflecting and avoiding potential scams in the future