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Surprising Statistics About Phishing Scams

Monday, May 21, 2018 | Posted by: Alpha Kappa Psi

In 2017 there was a huge surge in phishing scams, rising to around 1.1 million instances. While we traditionally think of senior citizens as most susceptible to email fraud and other tricks, new research has shown that millennials are the ones actually losing the most money. The Federal Trade Commission found that 40% of people age 20-29 who contacted them about a phishing scam said they lost money to the scam, while only 18% of those over age 70 said the same. Here’s what everyone needs to know about these tricks to stay safe.

Why Do Millennials Fall for Phishing Scams?

Part of the reason millennials find themselves losing money to phishing is because of simple confidence. There’s a big misconception that Internet fraud victims are elderly or uneducated about the Internet. Since millennials trust their skills and are less likely to do their due diligence in the face of phishing scams, they are now losing money. In fact, “tech savvy” people fall prey to phishing scams 18% more often than other populations. No matter your education or age, it’s important to take proper precautions to analyze situations for cues to fraud.

What Can You Do to Protect Yourself from Fraud?

  1. Keep your information to yourself.

Over half of millennials will share private information in exchange for an incentive according to the Annenberg Institute. Because millennials are used to a culture of sharing, they don’t think twice about handing over a phone number or email in exchange for a “free trial.”

  1. Watch out for job scams.

A report by Gallup recently showed a rise in telecommuting, especially for millennials. People are now more comfortable with the idea of working online, which increases danger from phishing scams. In fact, according to Flexjobs, there are 50-70 job scams for every real job posted online.

Protecting yourself from these kinds of scams means not accepting a job offer from someone you haven’t spoken to on the phone or in person, and not handing over sensitive information (like a social security number) during the job search.

  1. Password protect your devices.

Even if you never leave your phone alone, hackers can still remotely access your device. It’s best to use strong passwords to protect all of your devices. You should also change your password every six months, and try to avoid repeating passwords.

  1. Don’t click on links in emails.

Millennials tend to fall for phishing scams that are packaged as brands they believe in. For example, Paypal sent an email to its clients asking them to click a link and add the sender as a “safe sender” in their contacts. A scammer saw this email as an opportunity to mimic, and a very similar but fraudulent email soon went out asking users to input their credentials because their accounts “had been limited.” This is a great example of the kinds of scams millennials fall for.

  1. Be wary of public WiFi.

Because public WiFi isn’t secure, it’s easy for hackers to see what’s happening on your devices. So, If you’re trying to buy that sale dress while at your local coffee shop, you should probably wait until you’re in a more secure environment.

  1. Report scams that happen to you and encourage others to do the same.

If you think you’ve been the victim of a phishing scam, take the time to report it to the FTC. This helps the government to shut down the hackers and keep other consumers safe from scams.

If you’ve fallen for phishing scams, you aren’t alone. While the Internet is the home of many essential resources and tools, it’s got downsides too. This new data proves that scammers are a lot more sophisticated than some might have thought. Protecting yourself is a matter of being more vigilant, especially when it comes to job and email scams, as these are the most common today. Before you apply for that dream gig or panic because you got an email that looks officially threatening, do some research and even ask a friend their opinion. Though the Internet may feel like home, it’s never guaranteed to be safe.

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