Oct 10 - When you think of those most likely to get scammed online, what kind of person comes to mind?
You might automatically think of Baby Boomers, many of whom are above 60 and are typically not as tech-savvy as younger generations. But that stereotype is wrong.
Members of Generation Z are more than three times as likely as Boomers to have fallen for an online scam in the past year, according to a new report from consultancy Deloitte.
"When we looked at why, it was because scams are being tailored to that generation,” says Tanneasha Gordon, a principal at Deloitte who leads the firm’s Data & Digital Trust business.
This backs up separate reports from the Federal Trade Commission, which has found that younger generations are 34% more likely to report losing money to fraud compared to those 60-plus.
Users of popular apps like Instagram, TikTok, WhatsApp or Snapchat are often in their teens or twenties, which is what comprises Gen Z (those born between 1997-2013).
Since that generation is basically online all the time, there is simply more time and opportunity to encounter shopping scams like counterfeit goods or nonexistent products, bogus giveaways, fake storefronts that just want credit-card info, impersonation or romance scams plus phishing e-mails to gain access to financial accounts.
"Cyber criminals follow the numbers and will try to compromise new, emerging platforms that the younger generation might be quicker to embrace," says Dr. Jessica Barker, co-founder of security firm Cygenta and author "Confident Cyber Security."
The Better Business Bureau recently warned of a growing TikTok “money-flipping” scheme being reported in its Scam Tracker service. Scammers promise to multiply your money many times over by investing in crypto or the stock market, but first you have to send them cash via services like Zelle or Venmo, or even send them cryptocurrency directly. Of course, those promised gains never materialize.
For parents of teenagers or young adults who are headed off to college and may be steering their own financial lives for the first time, the blizzard of online scams is a worrisome trend. Here are a few pointers to help keep them (and you) safe:
There is no one solution to keeping your kids safe from scams, so use every last tool in your toolbox.
“Some of the things we are recommending for younger consumers: Enable two-step authentication, turn off location-based services on your phone and turn off cookie tracking,” says Deloitte’s Gordon. “Delete accounts you’re not using, change your passwords, stop using apps that have security concerns, and don’t click every link texted to you.”
DON’T PAY PEOPLE WHO PROMISE JOBS
Gen Z can be susceptible to too-good-to-be-true job offers, which promise to jump-start their young careers. Just remember that “no honest employer will ever make you pay for a job,” advises the FTC.
Some job scams will even send you a check to cover supposed costs like training or supplies, and instruct you to send back whatever cash is left over. Of course, that check turns out to be bogus.
Whatever your view on the legitimacy of cryptocurrency, there is no denying that scammers are rife in the sector, and they are targeting the young.
Younger adults were “four times more likely than older adults to report a loss on an investment scam,” writes the FTC in a December 2022 report. “Most of these were bogus cryptocurrency investment opportunities.”
WATCH OUT FOR THE UNEXPECTED
Almost everyone on Instagram has been offered the opportunity to be a “brand ambassador” by some firm that supposedly loves your account and content. That is exactly the kind of out-of-the-blue approach that should raise your defenses.
“I advise everyone to look out for communications which are unexpected, make you feel something, and ask you to do something,” says Cygenta’s Barker. “That’s a toxic combination which suggests someone is trying to manipulate you.
Some other practical advice from Barker: Use unique passwords that are not based on known words and phrases; never share two-factor authentication codes and keep devices up-to-date so that known security bugs are fixed before cyber criminals can take advantage of them.
(This story has been refiled to remove an extraneous word in the headline)
Editing by Lauren Young and Aurora Ellis
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