Millennials most likely to fall for financial scams, FTC finds

Seniors, however, lose more money to fraudsters

Sabrina Karl
Personal Finance Writer
Data whiz and visual storyteller



While the grandparent generation is commonly pegged as the most susceptible to financial scams, recent data from the Federal Trade Commission indicates millennials lost money to fraudsters more frequently than any other generation in 2017. 

The FTC found that among Americans age 20-29 who reported a fraud attempt to the agency, 4 in 10 lost money in the incident. For consumers in their 30s, about half of which are millennials, the rate of losing money to a scam was 32 percent. 

That’s in contrast to just 18 percent of consumers age 70 or older who indicated losing money in fraud attempts. 

However, when seniors did lose money, they gave up quite a bit more on average than the bilked millennials. The younger generation’s median loss was $380 to $400 (ages 20-39), while for seniors age 70-79, the average was $621. Victims age 80 and older fared even worse, suffering a median loss of over a thousand dollars ($1,092).

The FTC received 1.1 million reports of fraud in 2017, which are tracked separately from identity theft. The four most common fraud types, comprising 70 percent of 2017 reports, include impostor scams; fraudulent telephone and mobile services; prizes, sweepstakes and lotteries; and fraudulent shop-at-home and catalog sales. 

But the most costly reported scams were swindles involving travel, vacation and timeshare plans; business and job opportunities; and foreign money offers and counterfeit checks. Each of these resulted in a median loss above $1,000, with travel fraud losses averaging $1,710. 

The Federal Trade Commission compiles its annual Consumer Sentinel Network Data Book every March. In addition to taking consumer reports directly from people who contact the agency’s call center or file online, the FTC also includes complaints filed with other federal, state, local and international law enforcement agencies, as well as organizations like the Council of Better Business Bureaus and Publishers Clearing House. The FTC’s report of 2017 data was released March 1.

Millennials more likely to fall for financial scams

See related: Millennials most likely to fall prey to scams, First-time fraud victims likely to be hit again, More infographics


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Updated: 11-16-2018