A Consumer Reports article that asked the question in the headline: “Who Gets Scammed? Why Some People Are More Vulnerable.”
The magazine last year published a smartly written piece that should serve as a warning to us all.
Written by Lorraine Glennon, the lead said: “The most dangerous attitude any consumer can have is what social scientists call the ‘illusion of invulnerability’ — as in, ‘I’m too smart to ever fall for a con.’ No, you’re not and all the data show that everyone — irrespective of age, education, ethnicity, or gender — has the potential to be scammed, given the right circumstances and a scammer who’s gifted at, in the parlance of the profession, getting his mark ‘under the ether,’ in other words, unconscious of risk.”
Articles are written every year to warn elderly people, or their caregivers, about the danger of scams that can lead to the loss of large amounts of personal savings to fatten the bank accounts of unscrupulous scam artists.
But Ms. Glennon wrote:
“When it comes to falling for scams, it’s millennials, not seniors, who are most vulnerable. Among those who reported losing money to fraud, those in their 20s accounted for 40%, the single largest group, vs. 18% for those 70 and older, according to 2017 Federal Trade Commission data.”
The writer reported that older adults who fell victim to scams tend to lose larger amounts of money, compared to younger adults, the FTC found.
The article provided five traits that might make you an easy mark.
1. Being eager for bargains. Do you know people who are always on the lookout for investment “opportunities” and bargains, who send away for promotional materials and enter contests and drawings and who open all their mail (electronic of postal), including sales brochures and generic charity come-ons? That kind of deep.
2. Susceptibility to persuasion. Several studies conducted by Doug Shadel and his colleagues have found that fraud victims respond with greater interest than the general public to certain statements that con artists rely on to ensnare their prey.
3. Lacking a defensive strategy. Scam victims tend to take fewer measures to prevent or minimize the possibility of fraud.
4. Willingness to take risks. Researchers see a strong correlation between this trait and victimization, in part, they speculate, because high-risk but legitimate investments often have many outward similarities to fraudulent deals, such as the potential to get better-than-market returns and the need to make a snap decision.
5. Facing a rough patch. If you’ve gone through a divorce, been laid off from a job, or otherwise experienced some sort of life trauma in the past two years, watch out.
Now here’s the good news: If you check yourself for those five traits and understand the dangers they represent for you, it’s possible that you may be able to avoid being scammed, no matter what your age is.