Global fraud is on the rise, and young adults are particularly vulnerable — but knowing what to look out for can help keep them safe.
People in their 20s may seem more technologically savvy compared with older generations, but as it turns out, this age group also reports losing money to scams at significantly higher rates. In a recent Federal Trade Commission study, for example, individuals ages 20 to 29 accounted for 44% of fraud reports compared with just 20% from people ages 70 to 79.
College students are at risk for a few reasons, says Michael Steinbach, head of global fraud prevention at Citi. “Often, this is their first experience living on their own and making financial decisions without help from parents or guardians, which can make them targets of criminals,” he says. On top of that, “many in this age group have been conditioned to listen to authority figures like parents, teachers and coaches, so when they’re contacted by a fraudster posing as, say, a member of law enforcement or a bill collector, they may be inclined to follow instructions unquestioningly.”
And while it may seem counterintuitive, their comfort level with technology is another factor, says Steinbach. Today’s college students have grown up with smart phones and other digital devices playing a part in practically all aspects of their lives. “Buying and selling goods or services and transferring money has always been done with a few quick clicks or swipes,” he says. Because digital functionality is so ingrained, college students can be less vigilant than other digital users. “They may tend to ignore basic security protocols, finding passwords ‘annoying’ or looking at free, public Wi-Fi as a ‘score,’” says Steinbach, rather than something to be wary of.
All of that can make them more prone to falling for scams, and especially those targeted to students. To help the college kids in your life protect their accounts, share this advice on how to spot — and handle — seven common schemes.