RALEIGH — The stereotype of the little old lady as scam victim is wrong, and millennials are actually more vulnerable to scams than baby boomers.
That’s the conclusion of new research by the Better Business Bureau (BBB) Institute for Marketplace Trust. Marketplace scams affect one in four North American households each year at an estimated loss to individuals and families of $50 billion, yet most consumers believe they are invulnerable.
“This research is so vital, not only to stop scammers from hurting consumers, but to help businesses,” said Mary E. Power, president and CEO of the Council of Better Business Bureaus (CBBB). “That $50 billion ‘underground’ economy is stealing from the legitimate marketplace. Every dollar lost to a scam is a dollar not spent at a lawful, trustworthy business.”
The research, Cracking the Invulnerability Illusion: Stereotypes, Optimism Bias, and the Way Forward for Marketplace Scam Education, is based on a survey of more than 2,000 adults in the U.S. and Canada. Participants were asked about their perceived vulnerability to scams, who they think is most likely to be scammed, and about the factors that helped them to avoid being scammed. The participants did not know that BBB was the sponsor of the survey.
The new research also confirms some trends noted in BBB Scam Tracker, a crowd-sourced reporting tool. More than 30,000 consumers have reported details of scams to BBB since the site was launched in late 2015, and reports are shared with law enforcement to drive investigations.
Of those consumers reporting scams to BBB Scam Tracker, 89 percent of seniors (age 65 and up) recognized the scam in time, while only 11 percent reported actually losing money. For those age 18-24, however, more than three times as many failed to recognize the scam-34 percent reported losing money.
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