This Generation Falls for Online Scams The Most — And It’s Not Boomers

scam victim

The trope of boomers falling for online scams has been around for a while now, and considering how many horror stories we hear, there is no surprise. However, before Generation Z can boast, figures show their generation is likelier to fall for online scams than their grandparents. 

Generational Shift

According to a report from Deloitte, younger generations have a higher reported victim rate with phishing, romance scams, and identity theft. Ironically, Gen Z Americans make up 16% of those caught up in scams, compared to just five percent of boomers.

Furthermore, the youngest generation is twice as likely to be hacked on social media, and at least 14% of Gen Z-ers admitted to having misused their location data, putting them at the top of the list. Those under 20 also suffer financially: in 2017, online scams accounted for $8.2 million in losses. That figure hit a shocking $210 million in 2022.

Scott Debb, associate professor of psychology at Norfolk State University, found in a 2020 study that although members of Gen Z are considered “digital natives,” they didn't have the same level of preventative action regarding cybersecurity as their predecessors — including Millennials.

What Is Happening?

So, why is this the case? One suggestion is that this generation is using technology more than anyone else, so exposure to scams is higher; moreover, Gen Z-ers may choose convenience over safety, putting them at more risk. Finally, schools are tasked with teaching cybersecurity, which may not resonate with an increasingly distracted generation of students.

The Deloitte report outlines how Gen Z's preference for apps can lead to more exposure to fake emails, fake stores, and disingenuous influencers. The report claims that romance scams, for example, occur more with younger users, as meeting people online is so normalized.

Overreliance on Apps

Of course, their boomer grandparents and Gen X parents also use online dating, banking, and shopping but are less reliant on these measures. The major difference between this and prior generations is how typical digital literacy is, whereas older generations' reduced access means they are maybe more cautious about scams.

Debb speculates that social media platforms require no sign-in when returning to them, which could create the problem. This relentless accessibility is key, though if younger users had to verify their I.D. each time they logged back on, social media pages would appeal less to Gen Z-ers. On the other hand, older generations would be more accepting of such laborious processes.

A Safer Online Future

Other experts warn that blame doesn't lie solely in these young consumers' hands; the apps' convenient nature means that youngsters don't know anything else. Furthermore, they state how drawing more attention to the root cause of scams may also help. Once younger people know what incentivizes these scams, they may be better prepared for a safer online future.

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Raised in England and with a career background in international education, Ben now lives in Southern Spain with his wife and son, having lived on three continents, including Africa, Asia, and North America. He has worked diverse jobs ranging from traveling film projectionist to landscape gardener.

He offers a unique, well-traveled perspective on life, with several specialties related to his travels. Ben loves writing about food, music, parenting, education, culture, and film, among many other topics. His passion is Gen-X geekery, namely movies, music, and television.

He has spent the last few years building his writing portfolio, starting as a short fiction author for a Hong Kong publisher, then moving into freelance articles and features, with bylines for various online publications, such as Wealth of Geeks, Fansided, and Detour Magazine.