Scammers often target people 65 and older but a new Better Business Bureau report shows that young adults reported higher losses due to fraud in 2020 than in previous years.
Adults ages 18 to 24 reported the highest median loss, $150, of any age group, according to the 2020 BBB Scam Tracker Risk Report (https://bbb.org/bbbscamtrackerriskreport). Typically, young adults lose smaller amounts of money – but it happens more often – as compared to older people.
But 2020 was not a typical year, said Pam Marlowe, public relations coordinator for the BBB’s Erie office.
“With the (COVID-19) pandemic, we have seen an explosion of online purchasing scams,” Marlowe said.
Young adults have been victimized through social media, Marlowe said.
They will see a targeted advertisement on Instagram or another social media platform and click on it without realizing that it might lead them to a fake website.
“We have found that seniors are often victimized because they are too trusting, like by a romance scam,” Marlowe said. “With young adults, it’s often because they don’t know that they can’t trust everything online.”
Online purchasing scams were the most common type in Erie County, accounting for 52% of all reports to the BBB. They included scams on merchandise such as T-shirts, pet supplies and hot tubs that never arrived or were not as advertised.
Here are some tips from the BBB on how to avoid online purchase scams:
Don’t shop on price alone or based on professional photos. The top motivating factor for people who made a purchase and then lost money was price. Respondents also reported that website photos motivated them to engage with scammers, especially for pets/pet supplies, clothing/accessories and vehicles.
Before you buy, do your research. Scammers are great at mimicking official seals, fonts and other details. Just because a website or email looks official does not mean it is.
Beware of fake websites and verify security. Check the URL for errors/inconsistencies and watch for bad grammar, a lack of accessible contact information and new domain names.
Beware of making quick purchases while scrolling social media. Like marketers for real companies, scammers have access to the tools they need to learn about your buying behaviors, offering up exactly what you want at enticing prices.
Use secure and traceable transactions. Avoid paying by wire transfer, prepaid money card, gift card or other non-traditional payment methods. According to the report, those who paid by prepaid card or Zelle were most likely to lose money.
HERE to HELP: Have a consumer question you’d like us to help you with? Call David Bruce at 870-1716, send an email to email@example.com or send mail to 205 W. 12th St., Erie, PA 16534.