Did you know that those aged 20-29 reported losing money to fraud in 2019 more often than older people? In fact, 33% of twenty-somethings reported fraud losses compared to 13% of those age 70 to 79. The number one category of fraud is ID Theft. Contrary to what some might think, ID theft impacts young adults greatly.

Fraud and ID Theft Is On The Rise

The statistics tell a concerning story. Since the start of COVID-19, and before, more and more people have become victims of fraud. Here are some sobering facts, according to the FTC (Federal Trade Commission):

  • In 2020, there were 4.7 million reports of fraud, up from 3.2 million in 2019, an increase of over 46%.
  • Fraud losses went from $1.9 billion in 2019 to $3.3 billion last year, up almost 75%.
  • ID Theft reports increased 113% from 2019 to 2020.

Aged 20-29 At Greater Risk

We hear more about grandpa or grandma getting scammed on the phone, or the dumpster diving theft of a homeowners identity. Younger people wouldn’t be as much as risk, as they would be more paperless, and more capable of managing their digital information, right? That’s not what the data shows:

  • From 2019 to 2020, fraud reports for twenty-somethings increased 69%, from 82 per 100,000 in population to 138. Only aged 30-39 had a higher rate, at 143 per 100,000.
  • In 2020, those aged 20-29 reported losing money to fraud more often (44%) than those 70-79 (20%).

OK. Fraud and ID theft is a growing problem for everyone, and 20-29 year old’s are getting hit harder than we might expect. ID Theft impacts young adults. Why is that, and what can be done?

Technology A Major Reason

Technology has opened many doors for identity thieves and fraudsters; email, phone, the Internet, and mobile applications have increased the risk to users’ data privacy. Younger adults have grown up in a world defined and navigated by technology. Initial fraud contact methods reflects this reliance:

In 2019, the top contact method for twenty-somethings was the phone, at 21%. In 2020, the top method was websites or apps, at 26%, with social media next at 20%. Phone contacts were down to 11%. Clearly, thieves are using these methods more.

The top loss reports happened in the follow ways in 2019: Online shopping ($26.1M), government imposters ($19.3M) and business imposters ($9.6M). Fake check scams, and business and work at home opportunities round out the top 5.

A year later, the top 3 are the same, albeit with much larger dollar losses ($39M, $24M and $19M). But numbers 4 and 5 changed to miscellaneous investments (alternative currencies maybe?) and romance scams (!). Clearly, the time spent using technology is providing more fraud and ID theft opportunities.

Other Reasons

Attitude. A study by the Identity Theft Resource Center found that 64 percent of college students weren’t very worried about becoming the victim of fraud. And they’re the least likely demographic group to detect fraud on their own. College students might be fairly representative of those aged 20-29.

According to an article dated 10/15/20 in the Jackson Sun, Randy Hutchinson of the Better Business Bureau said, “Part of the problem is that students and crooks think differently. Many students believe the fact that they don’t have a lot of money or credit make them a less attractive target for identity thieves. The truth is quite the opposite. They usually have clean credit reports and unused Social Security numbers that crooks can exploit and they’re less likely to be checking their credit reports on a regular basis.”

Lifestyle. Younger people today, even in a COVID-19 distanced environment, tend to live in close quarters and don’t take enough precautions. The also “live” on social  media and tend to interact much more, and trust more, than their older counterparts. This can lead to leaving sensitive items laying around a dorm room or shared housing environment. Online, they might more quickly click on links they think are from friends, download free music, games or apps containing malware. And they might conduct online activities- including financial transactions-over public Wi-Fi- that are more easily hacked.

What To Do?

Here are some resources to protect yourself from Fraud and ID Theft, and what to do if you are a victim:

There are many more online resources available. In addition, Mid Oregon Credit Union regularly presents free seminars on ID Theft which are open to anyone.

If you are concerned about your Mid Oregon accounts, or recently learned you have become a victim of ID Theft or Fraud, you should let us know. We can help advise you, and start the process of fixing any issues.