Millennials may be more likely to fall for scams than seniors

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But FTC data shows when seniors bite, they tend to lose more money

It's well known, among consumer advocates and scammers alike, that senior citizens are particularly vulnerable to scams. But it turns out another generation may be more susceptible to the too-good-to-be-true schemes scammers use to reel in their ill-gotten gains.

The annual summary of complaints compiled by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) reveals a larger percentage of millennials reported losing money to scams last year than consumers age 70 and older. A breakdown of fraud complaints shows 40 percent of those aged 20 to 29 lost money to scams compared to just 18 percent of those 70 and over.

There were about 2.68 million consumer complaints about fraud last year, a decline from 2016. Seniors still made up the largest share of consumers who filed complaints to the agency.

But when the FTC looked at how many consumers reported losing money to scammers, young people were more likely than their grandparents to be victimized.

First year for an age breakdown

This is the first year that the FTC broke down complaints based by age. The numbers show that while a greater percentage of young people actually fell for a scam, older people lost more money when they were victimized. The median reported loss for people age 80 and older was $1,092 compared to $400 for those aged 20 to 29.

“While we received fewer overall complaints in 2017, consumers reported losing more money to fraud than they did the year before, “said Tom Pahl, Acting Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “This underscores the importance of the FTC’s work in educating consumers and cracking down on the scammers who try to take their money.”

Scams weren't the biggest source of consumer complaints in 2017 – debt collection was, accounting for 23 percent of complaints to the FTC.

Identity theft was the second largest category, accounting for nearly 14 percent of all consumer complaints. A majority of these complaints had to do with unauthorized use of a credit card. Close behind were complaints about tax fraud – someone using a consumer's identity to file a fake tax return to claim a refund.

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