Study: Millennials actually more gullible than their grandparents

Bet you didn’t see this one coming.

When you think of the various online scams, fraud, identity theft and extortion plots which frequently seek to part people from their money via email or social media accounts, who do you think of as most in need of protection? It’s the older folks, right? They barely understand how to use their email accounts, say nothing of how to spot and avoid those Nigerian princes who want them to hold a few million dollars for them. But it turns out that’s not true. New data from the Federal Trade Commission reveals that younger people in their twenties were not only scammed more often but lost more money per bogus transaction than people of retirement age. (Seattle King 5 News)

Move over, grandma and grandpa. Your Millennial grandkids reported losing money to financial scams last year than you did, new government data shows.

In all, 40% of Americans in their twenties who reported fraud in 2017 indicated they lost money to the schemes, the Federal Trade Commission said last week in its annual databook of consumer complaints.

The percentage surpassed the 18% of U.S. consumers 70 or older who reported they lost money to fraudsters last year, the FTC said.

However, the median loss reported by adults in their seventies was $621, and for those aged 80 or over it was $1,092. Both age groups reported a higher median loss than the $400 for those aged 20-29, the data showed.

The number of complaints about fraudulent schemes the agency receives is staggering. The good news is that the total number of cases reported was actually down in 2017. The bad news is that there were still 2.68 million consumers reporting such losses. (It was just about three million the year before.)

The biggest category of scams was bogus debt collection schemes. (I’ve never understood how anyone falls for that if you know when and where you spend your money.) The next biggest categories were identity theft leading to fraudulent credit card charges and tax fraud. Another big category was “imposter scams” where someone pretends to be a friend, relative or even a government agency like the IRS and tries to trick you into transferring money to them pronto. I was actually nearly the victim of one of those last year when I received a frantic email from a friend saying they were on a trip out of town, had been robbed or whatever and asked me to hit their PayPal account. My friend’s email had been hacked of course, and fortunately for me, we speak on the phone all the time so I simply called her to ask if she needed any other sort of assistance. She had no idea what I was talking about so we got her password reset and I don’t think anyone from her contact list sent cash.

Of course, I’m one of those older people who is nearing retirement. If this data from this study is valid, I’m guessing at least one-third of you younger folks would have fallen for it. But why is that?

Yes, it’s tempting to be snarky and just say something about stupid millennials, but that doesn’t make any sense to me. Younger people are definitely more “connected” in this data driven world and surely word of these scams gets around everywhere. Wouldn’t they be the most suspicious by nature? Or perhaps I’m looking at this in backwards fashion. Being so connected, perhaps millennials have everything tied through their phones and tablets while we old folks still do a lot of our transactions the old fashioned way. We might be more apt to notice something out of sorts whereas those pesky kids on our lawns are drowning in a blizzard of data.

Naw… that can’t be it. Millennials are just dumb.