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Millennials Are Group Most Likely to be Victims of Both Telephone and Online Scams

Multiple studies have recently shown that across all age groups it is Millennials who are most likely to fall victim to scams carried out via telephone or SMS, as well as fall prey online while displaying careless habits. These digital natives are the most comfortable with mobile devices and eCommerce, but also the most trusting and vulnerable.

A study published by Truecaller earlier this year estimated that scam phone calls and SMS text messages impacted 27 million Americans in 2015 leading to $7.4 billion in losses. The average adult consumer receives nearly 16 spam phone calls and 6 SMS text messages per month. While 11 percent of adult consumers reported losing money related to phone or SMS scams in the past year, a disproportionate share of these victims were Millennials, with 17 percent of women and 38 percent of men in between ages 18 and 34 falling victim to phone or SMS scams in 2015.

Many assume that Millennials are cautious with technology since growing up with it, but there is data showing this is not exactly the case. According to a survey from TransUnion, consumers 18 to 34 years’ old are significantly more likely to put themselves at risk for identity fraud by careless use of technology. The study found that 86 percent of Millennials keep bank account information saved in their mobile devices while 84 percent will perform online banking or check financial accounts while using open, public Wi-Fi. Baby Boomers (defined as persons 55 to 70 years’ old) are significantly less likely to risk exposing credentials by accessing financial accounts while connected to public Wi-Fi, at 54 percent. Furthermore, only a little more than one-third of Millennials surveyed lock their mobile devices with a password.

Another potential factor contributing to the large number of fraud victims in the 18 to 34 age range is lax privacy policies with the use of social media. Numerous past studies have shown that consumers overshare, and those that do or are careless with privacy are more likely to fall victim to identity fraud. Visa once found that 29 percent of consumers list their phone number, 20 percent provide their home address and 14 percent share their mother’s maiden name on social media – all information that can be used for sending scams, stealing an identity, making unauthorized transactions or taking over an account. An earlier study from Javelin found the incidence rate of identity fraud among Facebook users with public profiles was 50 percent higher than that of the general U.S. adult population (7.5 versus 5 percent). Facebook users that accepted friend requests from strangers were the most likely to be victim of identity fraud with a 9 percent incident rate.

Another recent study looking at security habits across demographic groups was recently published by Symantec, which reached over 17,000 adult mobile users in 17 different countries. According to this study, 44 percent of Millennials in the United States had been a victim of online crime in the last year. Globally, 31 percent of Millennials reuse or share credentials across multiple logins compared to only 15 percent of Baby Boomers.

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