Millennials have a bad reputation for preferring text messages over phone calls, and when they do talk on the phone, they’re more likely to become the victim of a scam artist than any other generation.
People in their 20s and early 30s were six times likelier than baby boomers to disclose personal information to scammers after the caller verified the last four digits of their Social Security numbers, according to according to a survey of 1,000 mobile phone users commissioned by First Orion, a call transparency service. Three times as many millennials as baby boomers experienced a financial loss from a scam, the survey found.
The findings come as Americans of all ages are more vulnerable than ever to scams. A string of high-profile data breaches has made it more likely that consumers’ personal information is in the hands of fraudsters. The Internal Revenue Service has warned taxpayers to be extra vigilant this tax season. Scammers could take the data revealed during the Equifax breach —which could have affected 143 million American adults — and use that information to file a fake tax return and steal someone’s tax refund.
The IRS does not email or call individuals about their tax situations, and will instead send a hard copy letter. Still, millennials were more confident than any other generation that they could spot a scam in an email, text or phone call, according to the First Orion report. (Millennials weren’t attuned to specific details around their finances, however — 68% did not know the deadline to file their taxes).
Other findings from the survey included:
• 32% of all respondents said they would take a call from an IRS agent about their tax situations (but again, the IRS does not call individuals).
• Another third said they have received an email, text, phone call from someone impersonating an IRS agent.
• In 2018, 31% of respondents said it took seven months to resolve their stolen identity issues, up from 23% in 2017.
First Orion’s findings are in line with other recent data about millennials and fraud. Of the people 20 to 29 years old who complained to the Federal Trade Commission about fraud in 2017, 40% lost money, according to a report by the agency, compared to 18% of people 70 and older. Why might younger people be more vulnerable to these scams? Because they assume others are at a higher risk of fraud and they are more inclined to share their personal information, such as an email address or mother’s maiden name, on the web.
“As digital natives, millennials are often less skeptical about the repercussions of sharing their personal information and trust that financial security systems will protect them,” said Scott Ballantyne, chief marketing officer at First Orion. “Older generations, however, tend to be more hesitant because they better understand the ramifications of fraud and identity theft, plus, they have generally built up more wealth and therefore have more to lose.”