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Millennial’s Tech Habits Make Them the Worst Victims of Fraud

By Seth Nadel, eCommerce Technology Analyst, Information Technologies

Fraud scammers are becoming increasingly creative. Whether it’s a bogus IRS call or nonprofit “volunteer” looking for donations, it can be difficult to decipher what’s real and what’s not.

We mostly hear about elderly consumers getting conned by these schemes. As unfortunate as it is, I can wrap my head around that – most of the technology used for fraud is relatively new to those ages 60 and older. What I can’t understand is how Millennials, born and raised in the digital age, still fall for fraud schemes. In fact, they are more likely to get scammed than Baby Boomers, and don’t realize they are a victim until they are contacted by creditors.

Millennials: You suffer enough from skyrocketing student loan debt and general cost of living to be duped out of your hard-earned cash. This National Consumer Protection Week, safeguard your funds by familiarizing yourselves with the most common examples of fraud:

1. Not everything requires a social media post. Millennials will find a reason to share every aspect of their day with their friends and followers – but a line needs to be drawn. Recognize what you’re sharing online and how it can impact you. Case in point: I once helped a millennial with fraudulent charges on her credit card, and the “aha” moment came when she realized they started to occur after she posted a picture of her credit card on Facebook. Her reasoning for the post? “I wanted everyone to see the cute puppies on my card.” She had no idea the numbers on her credit card could be used without her signature, pin or security code. Let’s keep social media reserved for pictures of real dogs. Or avoid over-sharing temptation by opting for a standard card design.

2. Debit cards aren’t fraud-proof. Millennials are generally known for being fiscally responsible, which is why they stay away from credit cards. Instead, they use debit cards. While this is smart, it can also bite you.  If unauthorized charges are made on a credit card, you likely won’t be responsible for them. But using a debit card means money comes right out of your account, and it’s much harder to get it back.  In fact, you may not get it back at all.

3. Beware of public WiFi. Public WiFi is becoming a bigger and bigger security problem. Millennials constantly access it in fear of those pesky data overage fees – but WiFi networks are not as secure as you’d think. Scammers control fake WiFi networks and can monitor everything you do, enabling him to grab all your login credentials and gain access to your bank accounts. Your safest bet is to stay away from them altogether. Data fees are cheaper than fraud.

4. Your smartphone needs virus protection, too. Millennials make a lot of purchases on their mobile phones.  But unfortunately, mobile is still a new platform and is inherently open to fraud. And hackers are taking advantage of it.  You might be completely unaware that in the process of buying that cool jacket you saw on Instagram (and ironically, it’s now on sale!), you’ve downloaded multiple viruses onto your smartphone. The best advice is to download an anti-virus/anti-malware app on your smartphone.  There are many free apps out there can potentially save you thousands.

5. Keep your friends close but your banking information closer. Millennial’s are a very loving, tolerant and sharing generation, but they seem to be asking for trouble by sharing credit cards and PIN numbers with friends and family. Did you know that you’re more likely to be scammed by someone you know? More and more fraud investigations are uncovering the scammer to be a close friend or family member.  Guard your financial information at all costs. My wife doesn’t even know my PIN number! (But that’s what joint accounts are for)

Millennials have otherwise proven to be a more financially-savvy generation. Fix these fraud slips, and our future is br

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