Tips & Advice

Tech scams that target millennials and young people

Emma McGowan 3 Jun 2021

Here's a roundup of commonly used tech tricks and traps

We’ve all been there: While using your computer or phone, you get an alert or an email from a company that’s supposedly your computer or phone manufacturer. It warns of suspected malware. There’s an 800 number or a live chat window offering to help. Once you call or click, you’re instructed to hand over remote access or to provide credit card information to fix a problem your computer never had.

It seems easy to avoid, but identity scams cost Americans $56 billion last year, affecting around 49 million people. But it’s not only the elderly who fall prey. The Federal Trade Commission reports that people in their 20s and 30s are 25% more likely to report money lost to fraud than people 40 and over. 

Protect yourself and your loved ones by learning about the most common scams that affect young people and millennials today.

Unsolicited calls or emails

Scammers impersonate people you should trust – from government agencies to customer service employees. Avoid picking up unexpected calls from unfamiliar phone numbers. Let your voicemail answer to help you determine their authenticity.

If you do get a message that you think is legitimate, don’t return the phone call directly. Call or email them back by using contact information listed on their website. Never give out information or money to someone who contacted you first. 

Online shopping fraud

If a product is advertised at price too low to be true, it’s likely not. Watch out if you must pay immediately or buy vouchers that allow you to have access to a deal or a giveaway.

Beware of new online stores based on social media with products at very low prices. Check for limited information about delivery and other policies. If you buy something, you may never get a delivery. When making online purchases, only pay for items using a secure payment service. Look for a URL starting with ‘https’ and a closed padlock icon or a payment provider like PayPal. 

Job hunting scams

Many job openings now require you to submit resumes and personal information through web-sites and automated apps. Scammers will disguise themselves as legitimate businesses. They direct you to fake websites to collect your personal data or ask you to download apps that contain malware. 

Millennials tend to have a positive outlook and are willing to try non-traditional methods when applying for jobs. They are comfortable meeting people online for the first time. Beware of jobs that offer high pay for low responsibility or no qualifications. Other red flags include jobs that ask you to pay upfront for equipment or background checks.

Debt relief offers

Millennials have a reputation for carrying at least some, if not too much debt. They are often targeted by debt relief scams. Never trust companies that offer debt help that sounds like a miracle. If they promise to get rid of all your debt, or if they tell you don’t have to contact your creditors, those are red flags. Beware of companies that ask you to pay for fees upfront – it’s illegal.  

Work with a nonprofit credit counseling agency like NerdWallet. These organizations offer free financial advice and help speed up your debt payoff.

Talk with your friends and the young people in your life about online scams. When you know what to look for, it’s easier to stay protected. You can help fight online fraud by reporting scams and bad business practices to the FTC