If you’re a digital native and consider yourself immune to all scams, thieves have you exactly where they want you.
For years, the Better Business Bureau survey has shown that younger adults are much more likely to lose money to scammers than older people whom you may see as stereotypical victims. The Federal Trade Commission reports similar numbers: 44 percent of people ages 20 to 29 lose money to fraud, more than double the 20 percent of people ages 70 to 79.
The latest report from the Better Business Bureau revealed a new twist: when criminals redoubled their efforts over the past year as home-bound people spent more time online, they managed to calculate the average loss per scam for adults ages 18 to 24 bring the same level – $ 150 for the much more flush 65-plus crowd.
When we look at the types of scams that work on young people, there’s not a Nigerian prince in sight. The targeted activities vary widely, from the online shopping these victims do almost every day to their one-off handling of paper checks. Illegal programs also target student debt payments and the jobs they want to buy.
So let’s set out what these scams are like – and remember the best ways to reach out to young people who think they are invincible.
Online Retail Fraud
The false promise of a rare or surprisingly cheap product isn’t a new form of Flimflam, but the internet certainly makes it easier – especially if you’re used to shopping online frequently.
Online purchase fraud accounted for 64 percent of lost funds reports to the Better Business Bureau last year, up from just 13 percent in 2015. And according to the bureau’s data, 83 percent of young adults exposed to such scams fell on them in, more than any other age group.
There are two trends to watch out for here.
First, don’t let puppy love blind you. Pet and pet fraud scams made up 25 percent of online purchase fraud cases reported to the Better Business Bureau in the past – and that rose to a third last year when the pandemic pet purchases boomed. The American Kennel Club and the Humane Society of the United States are offering tips online to keep you from being dogless and bypassing the average dollar loss of $ 660 that the office reports.
Second, Amazon is everywhere – including as a carrier for fraud. Given its size, scammers try to impersonate Amazon more often than any other company’s brand.
The company offers some freaky advice on how to spot problems in an unsolicited “Amazon” listing:
Real Amazon sites have a period before amazon.com in the URL.
Whenever you get a message that you need to update your payment method, always go straight to the Amazon website to see if that’s true – not from a link in the message.
The company doesn’t send links that contain jumbled numbers.
Also note: scammers sometimes smile at the Better Business Bureau themselves by pretending to be the organization when initiating Amazon scams.
Millions of people became unemployed during the pandemic through no fault of their own, so it’s no surprise that these scams have proliferated. And crooks have made it their business to offer bogus jobs that particularly appeal to young adults.
Foot-in-the-door postings in the creative industry, such as assistants and receptionists, are common tricks for people with bad intentions. Same goes for warehouse and shipping jobs, an area that boomed during the pandemic and offers jobs that many people are qualified to do.
The scams often ask for birth dates and social security numbers that can be used to commit the worst forms of identity theft. Another form of fraud charges a few hundred dollars to provide supplies or training for positions that turn out to be nonexistent.
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Of those surveyed who encountered scams, 32 percent said they came from the Indeed job board, far outperforming other popular platforms, the Better Business Bureau found in a report last year.
Indeed appears to be aware of this and is posting tips to avoid this type of fraud. (The company should probably force you to read the warnings before looking at a single listing.) Underneath is some kind of proactive approach: “Never get into a position where you open multiple accounts and / or advertise on Indeed, or on other pages. “
In short, Indeed wants you to beware of Indeed scammers who trick you into using Indeed to carry out Indeed scams.
Fake check scam
This is often a very real piece of paper that appears to be drawn into a business or personal bank account, or issued as a money order or cashier’s check. It looks so authentic that the recipient will not attract attention and the bank will not immediately refuse it.
Then comes the scam, which is a follow-up message reclaiming some of the money: “Sorry this is an accidental overpayment” or “Please use some of the money to mystery shopping online money transfer services to carry out. “
These checks can arrive in the mail and appear like a price or a discount – exactly the kind of payment your banking app can quickly process through your phone’s camera. Often it is a twist on employment fraud: a prostitute allegedly accidentally pays the applicant he has just hired too much – and then wants some of the money back.
According to the Federal Trade Commission, people in their twenties are more than twice as likely as older adults to fall into such things. Many of them haven’t used checks much, and they may not be aware that while federal law requires banks to make funds available from checks quickly, it will take those banks many days to find a counterfeit check. Once they do, they usually want the money back from the victim for putting the faulty check into the system.
Student Loan Fraud
This is already a problem, but it could get a lot worse very soon.
Tens of millions of borrowers have currently paused their federal student loan payments thanks to government efforts to keep them out of financial trouble during the pandemic. But a switch will be thrown as early as October 1st and most of these people have to start the repayment process.
Even at the best of times, it is difficult for student loan borrowers to get good help from their service providers. And meltdowns seem inevitable this fall.
“It makes the situation completely ripe for scammers,” said Seth Frotman, executive director of the Student Borrower Protection Center.
You can expect a barrage of thieves offering “Free Extended Forbearance” or “Biden Forgiveness Plans” that don’t exist. Then they tried to redirect victims’ payments or use their personal information for identity theft. Or both.
The Federal Trade Commission and Department of Education offer fraud prevention tips. And when the Pennsylvania Attorney General closed a unit called the Unified Holding Group, he revealed some insightful details about how complicated these cons can be.
Among other things, the company urged borrowers to ignore contact from their legitimate loan service providers and had stilted just enough on its website to be legitimate, saying things like “We find integrity a positive reputation and a sense of security promotes all of our business interactions. “
So what can we do?
It is deeply unsatisfactory to default to “more awareness” as a partial solution to scams that exploit systemic complexity and injustice that shouldn’t exist. But here we are. Again.
Young adults traveling alone might slow down a little. For example, maybe Instagram isn’t necessary. And remember, scammers are more likely to succeed with the stressed and lonely. If you are both, be careful.
Early education is crucial. If your child’s school has a personal finance class, ask the teacher if there is a section on fraud and theft. Studying crooks’ techniques with amazement, awe, and reluctant respect as opposed to cursing didactics could make things better.
It would be even better to have its own awareness-raising campaign – a kind of true crime drama. Chances are you saw a scam in action even if you weren’t caught. So tell stories about your own near victims – or worse. Sure, you could become a temporary mockery. But the story will likely stay.