Gen Z and Millennials Show Little Concern About Financial Fraud but Are More at Risk of Online Scams
A recent Bank of America Better Money Habits survey indicates that younger generations, particularly Gen Z and millennials, are displaying lower levels of concern about falling victim to financial fraud compared to their older counterparts. Only 15% of Gen Z and 20% of millennials express worry about deceptive tactics leading to stolen money or assets, in stark contrast to the 27% of both Gen X and baby boomers who feel at risk.
According to Jennifer Ehresman, head of client protection for consumer and small business at Bank of America, the lower anxiety levels among younger individuals may stem from their ongoing navigation of financial literacy and a growing understanding of fraud pitfalls. The immediacy of online banking apps further contributes to their sense of security, allowing them to monitor account transactions in real-time. Despite the perception of heightened control, Matt Schulz, chief credit analyst at LendingTree, warns against complacency. Younger adults, while having smaller account balances on average, may still face severe consequences due to weaker credit and limited budget flexibility.
Social media scams
A significant concern for younger adults is the rise of social media scams. Fraudsters exploit the online presence of younger individuals, leading to staggering losses of about $2.7 billion through scams on social media, as reported by the Federal Trade Commission. This figure surpasses losses through any other method of contact.
The vulnerability of younger generations is evident in the statistics provided by the FTC, revealing that during the first half of 2023, social media served as the point of contact in 38% of fraud losses for individuals aged 20 to 29. For those aged 18 or 19, this figure rose to 47%.
Understanding the impact
Recovering from a financial scam varies depending on the compromised information. While some cases can be swiftly resolved, others entail a more prolonged process. For instance, fraudulent credit card charges can often be rectified with a simple phone call, thanks to robust fraud protections. However, more severe breaches, such as the theft of a Social Security number, can lead to extensive and lasting consequences. Criminals might exploit this information to open credit cards, take out loans, or even file false tax returns. The IRS' Identity Theft Victim Assistance program reported a substantial increase in cases with 294,138 individual case receipts during fiscal year 2023 compared to 92,631 cases in 2019.
Building a defense against financial fraud
To mitigate the risks associated with financial fraud, experts recommend adopting a proactive approach. Matt Schulz emphasizes the importance of building a basic financial fraud check, involving regular scrutiny of bills and credit card statements. Detecting and reporting even small, unrecognized charges can prevent further fraudulent activities. Schulz advises skepticism when considering signing up for services, especially those requiring financial information. Understanding the fine print and potential consequences in case of data theft is crucial. If a service seems too good to be true, Schulz suggests exercising caution and being willing to say no.
While younger generations may feel more connected and secure in their financial transactions, they need to be aware of the unique risks posed by social media scams and the potential consequences of financial fraud. Building a habit of vigilant monitoring and maintaining a skeptical approach to online services can go a long way in protecting against the evolving landscape of financial threats.
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