LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Millennials may be thought of as more tech-savvy than older generations, but a new study find they’re most likely to be victimized by phone scams resulting in fraud and identity theft.
The survey, commissioned by phone data security company First Orion, involved responses from 1,000 mobile phone users in the United States. Researchers found that almost three times as many millennials experienced financial loss from a phone scam as baby boomers — despite showing the most confidence in being able to detect such cons whether by phone, text, or email.
According to the IRS, recent data breaches have given scammers more access than ever to personal information, and the prevalence of auto-dialing and Internet calling technology make it easier for scammers to take advantage of people over the phone. Data points such as Social Security numbers, email addresses, and more could be accessed by identity thieves and scammers, experts warn, particularly during the early months of the year.
“Tax season poses an opportune time for sophisticated scammers to disguise their identities and target consumers. In fact, we found nearly one-third of respondents have received a scam call from someone impersonating an IRS agent,” says Scott Ballantyne, Chief Marketing Officer of First Orion, in a press release. He theorized millennials’ familiarity with technology breeds this overconfidence.
The increased access to personal information gives scammers the ability to lull potential victims into a false sense of security, which is particularly effective on millennials. According to the study, millennials were six times more likely to divulge personal information over the phone if the caller verified the last four digits of their Social Security number. The segment also experienced the highest amount of financial losses across all generations.
Among the more popular scams affecting Americans is a purported call from an IRS agent. While the IRS never reaches out to citizens over the phone, about a third of respondents still said they’d take the call if they were told it was the tax agency on the other end.
The number of attempted scams also appears to be up significantly. Compared to when the survey was taken in 2015, four times as many respondents said they’d received a fraudulent call in the past week.
The results may reflect a greater problem when it comes to millennials: 68 percent didn’t know the correct deadline to file taxes this year, which could indicate younger adults simply aren’t as educated when it comes to taxes and the IRS.