Millennials more likely to be taken in by fraud

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Research shows that people over the age of 75 are unlikely to have lost money in a swindle; the most frequent victims are younger and highly educated.


A survey conducted by the Better Business Bureau (BBB) has found that people tend to think others are more at risk of being scammed, and perceive victims as "elderly, alone, and pitiable", or "gullible and unintelligent". In fact, the BBB's research shows that younger and better educated people are more likely to be caught up in a fraud.


The poll asked more than 2000 people in the U.S. and Canada for the adjective that first comes to mind when thinking of someone who is likely to be scammed; the words “gullible,” “naive,” “elderly,” and adjectives synonymous with “stupid” were the most common responses.


Both younger and highly educated


"Research exploring the demographic characteristics of actual scam victims paints a far more complex picture of relative risk, exposing public perceptions as grossly oversimplified, and often simply inaccurate," reads the report. "Collectively, these findings support an understanding that all segments of society are at risk – we are all vulnerable."


The BBB survey went on to ask respondents if they had lost any money in a scam in the prior year. The people who acknowledged that they had been taken in were both younger and more likely to be highly educated than the overall sample. Those between the ages of 24 and 35 were the most likely of all demographics to have been swindled, with more than 30% reporting a financial loss. Those least likely to report a loss were people aged 75 or older.


"No one is immune"


"Assessing the true demographic characteristics of scam victims is complicated by under-reporting and other factors, but the evidence pointing to younger and more highly-educated individuals is difficult to reconcile with public perceptions," concludes the BBB study. "The image of the elderly and/or gullible victim is so entrenched that a conscious effort to tell the stories of victims who do not fit this image may be helpful in counterbalancing these false perceptions toward an understanding that fraud is a pervasive threat to which no one is immune."


As published in The Insurance & Investment Journal by Andrew Rickard Aug. 22, 2016  01:32 p.m.


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