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Online scams aren’t a new concept. Since the inception of the internet, they’ve been around, and they aren’t going away anytime soon. Most internet users are well aware of this, yet most still feel immune to random online scams. After all, many are already aware that there is no Nigerian prince offering millions of dollars. However, we might no longer believe in princes, but what about other scams?
Unfortunately, though, whether you grew up plugged into your iPad or have yet to figure out how PDFs work, you could fall for online scams just as easily as the next person, or could you?
Are younger, digitally native generations better equipped to handle scams, or do baby boomers have an edge in this sphere? Let’s find out.
What the data suggests
As the generation that grew up in the age of digital technology, Gen Z, or Zoomers (referring to those born after 1996), are considered ultra tech-savvy. This generation grew up using smartphones and having a fast internet connection. Zoomers rely on technology for everything from receiving education, finding jobs, ordering food, staying in touch with their peers, to finding romantic partners.
Considering just how well-versed Gen Z is in technology, it’s easy to assume that Zoomers aren’t quite as vulnerable to online scams and fraud as Baby Boomers (those born between 1946 and 1964).
However, data seems to suggest otherwise.
A study from Social Catfish has found that Zoomers are quickly becoming the most common victims of cybercrime.
Over the past three years, the number of victims of online scams among Gen Z has risen by 156%, whereas it’s only grown by 112% among Baby Boomers.
The reason for this is simple – scams are becoming ever-more advanced and believable to target different demographics.
Which scams do generations commonly fall for?
You need to be informed to stay protected against online scams. Take a look at some common scams that people of each generation are the most vulnerable to:
- Job scams:
- Getting charged with hiring fees or otherwise having to pay for training.
- Lawsuit scams:
- Receiving calls from IRS impersonators claiming that you’re being sued for failing to pay taxes.
- Shopping scams:
- Fake shopping sites that collect your credit card information, charge you, and never send you your items.
- Public Wi-Fi scams:
- Connecting to unsecured networks which leak your personal information to scammers.
- Phishing/smishing scams:
- Receiving texts or emails that appear to be legitimate, notifying the user of suspicious bank activity.
Online scams are getting ever more sophisticated, and it’s essential to be equipped with the right tools and knowledge on how to avoid them.
Simple tips to avoid getting scammed
Although most internet users feel entirely at home while they’re online, it’s critical to take steps to ensure your safety. Some simple things you can do to avoid getting scammed are as follows:
Get a VPN
A Virtual Private Network (VPN) is designed to encrypt your connection to any network, scrambling your data and making it virtually impossible to retrieve. Using a PC VPN while you’re connected to a network will keep your browsing habits and all personal information private, preventing scammers from using your information against you.
Don’t give out personal information so easily
You should always be careful about how and when you share information such as your credit card number, email, phone number, location, passwords, and more. Even if you’re getting an incoming call that’s seemingly from your bank, don’t share any personal details. Hang up, then call the number from your bank’s official website if you need to.
When you need to share information such as your credit card number when you’re shopping online, make sure that the site is safe and reliable and look for a small padlock icon in the URL bar to see whether the site is secure.
Additionally, never share private information when you’re connected to public Wi-Fi or an unsecured network. You never know who might intercept your connection and steal your information.
It’s always in your best interest to double-check everything when you’re online. Examine the URL of the site you’re visiting and ensure it is correct (e.g., amazon.com, not amaz0n.com). If you’re getting an incoming call from your bank, check the number and see if it’s listed on the bank’s official website. If you receive an email from a potential employer, do some research on the company and find out as much as you can about it.
If it’s too good to be true, avoid it
One of the most straightforward rules to follow to avoid online scams is – if it’s too good to be true, it probably is, so you should avoid it.
An email stating you received an inheritance from a long-lost relative. Doubtful. A shopping site offering a $1,000 smartphone for just $149.99. Probably not.
Trust your better judgment and avoid any offers, requests, or deals that sound too good to be true.
Zoomer or a Baby Boomer, you’re just as vulnerable to online scams as everyone else is. Take your online security seriously and be very careful with how you share your personal information online.