SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) – The stereotype of a scam victim often focuses on the innocent granny, but a new study shows that Millennials are more likely to fall victim to scams than their parents and grandparents.
Emma Fletcher, a product manager with the Better Business Bureau Institute, said the study she co-authored has shattered the myth of the scan victim.
"We've bought into stereotypes about scam victims – they're usually seen as vulnerable and elderly, or gullible and poorly educated," Fletcher said. "These stereotypes are strongly held and they are wrong."
Fletcher's study for the institute found of those consumers reporting scams to BBB Scam Tracker, 89% of seniors (age 65 and up) recognized the scam in time, while only 11% reported actually losing money.
For those age 18-24, however, more than three times as many failed to recognize the scam – 34% reported losing money.
Co-author Rubens Pessanha said years of warnings to older adults has made them much more leery of scams than younger adults.
"Seniors may be the one group that does not suffer from optimism bias when it comes to scams," Pessanha said. "They've heard, loud and clear, that they are at risk. Seniors may very well be more scam savvy than others. They are also less impulsive buyers than younger consumers."
According to the researchers, scams affect one in four North American households each year at an estimated loss to individuals and families of $50 billion.
"That $50 billion 'underground' economy is stealing from the legitimate marketplace," said Mary E. Power, president and CEO of the Council of Better Business Bureaus Every dollar lost to a scam is a dollar not spent at a lawful, trustworthy business."
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