People of all ages are at risk of scams and identity theft. But recent government research shows that people under 50 actually report more fraud than older generations. In this article, our identity specialists are breaking down why younger people are particularly vulnerable, the top scams targeting them, and how to stay safe.
Which generation reports fraud more often? The answer may surprise you.
It's commonly believed that older people are the most at risk, but recent research suggests otherwise.
According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), people in their 30s and 40s filed the most fraud complaints in 2022.
Data from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) tells a similar story. Last year, people between the ages of 20 and 29 reported losing money to fraud more often than older generations.
One thing is certain: identity theft and scams impact people of all ages, and different fraud types affect younger and older generations in distinct ways.
Here are some top scams for Gen X, millennials, and Gen Z to watch out for.
What makes younger people vulnerable to fraud and scams?
As a Restoration Manager at Allstate Identity Protection, Vera Tolmachoff has unique insight into what makes younger generations particularly vulnerable.
“Digital natives tend to feel comfortable interacting online, especially using social media platforms," says Tolmachoff. "But with that comfort comes possible exposure to risk."
It's no surprise then that social media is the top way for scammers to get in touch with 20- and 30-year-olds, according to the FTC.
"We see a lot of scams that originate on social media,” says Tessa Iwan, Restoration Manager at Allstate Identity Protection. “From my experience helping our members, I’ve seen that younger people tend to be more open to accepting invitations or messages from people they don't know."
Plus, now that younger people are spending more time online than ever before, they’re more likely to apply for jobs, loans, and leases online.
But the more you share online, the greater the chance that you'll wind up sharing with a scammer, or the greater the chance that your information will fall into the wrong hands.
Younger generations and scams
According to the FTC, data from last year suggests that some ploys are harming younger people more than older adults.
People between the ages of 20 and 29 reported losing money more often than older people between the ages of 70 and 79.
Plus, the total reported losses for that age group climbed from $262 in 2021 to $462 million in 2022.
People in their 30s reported identity theft the most often of all age groups.
Watch out for these common scams
Using the internet shouldn't mean sacrificing your privacy, though. If you know how scammers may try to target you, you'll have a leg up.
According to the FTC, these scams have had the most impact on young people so far this year:
Online shopping scams: An online shopping scam usually begins with a fake website, created by a scammer pretending to be a legitimate online retailer. Fake websites will typically ask for your personal and financial information in return for a product or service, but you often don't get what you paid for. Next time you place an order online, be sure that the website is secure and legitimate (you can use our guide to verify this).
Phony investment schemes: Get-rich-quick schemes have been around for decades, but they’re attracting young people in new ways. In fact, the FTC reported that people between the ages of 20 to 49 were more than three times as likely as older age groups to report losing crypto to a scammer. And according to the FBI, cryptocurrency scams cost Americans $2.57 billion in 2022, up 183 percent from the prior year. Keep in mind, cryptocurrency payments are typically not reversible and do not come with legal protections. So it pays to think twice before paying anyone who demands cryptocurrency.
Imposter scams: An imposter scam can take many forms, but it usually involves a scammer pretending to be someone you know and trust in order to gain access to your money or personal information. Some bad actors are even using AI technology to take these schemes to the next level — for example, by cloning voices to more convincingly pose as a loved one in distress. You can combat this by taking a moment before responding to a family member that is acting out of character. The same applies to calls and texts from "government agencies" — these messages are almost always bogus.
Fake job listings: The U.S. job market may be cooling, but job scams are not. Younger generations are less likely to be retired, and therefore more at risk of being targeted by fake job listings. Be wary of job postings with an all-too-easy interview process, unreasonable high advertised salaries or benefits, and a lengthy application process that demands too much personal information — especially if the opportunity is remote.
No matter the scam type, Tolmachoff shared her number one tip for staying one step ahead. “Don’t be afraid to fact-check. If you are uncertain about what has been sent to you in an email or a text, or if something on a website doesn't seem right, don't click on it."
In addition, it doesn't hurt to reduce the amount you share online and approach any unexpected opportunities or requests with caution.
As an Allstate Identity Protection member, we’re always available to help if your identity is stolen. If you have an active case, our identity specialists will guide you every step of the way — and you can track the status of your case online by logging into your account.