Since the beginning of the digital age, unscrupulous people have looked for ways to trick unsuspecting browsers out of money or even their identity. Despite what people may think, senior citizens are not the most susceptible to online scams. In fact, the 18-25 demographic is most likely to be victimized.

“There are all types of forms of scams, such as money scams, real estate scams and employment scams,” Liz Fredrichs, president and CEO of Better Business Bureau in Beaumont, said. “Unfortunately, the young generation are only aware of money scams and feel they are the only form of scamming.”

Recent studies have shown that young adults from the ages of 18-25 are 15 percent more likely to be scammed than adults aged 35-50.

“(From) the research, we have discovered that the reason the youth are the main victims is that the young generation tends to have a biased perspective that adults, due to their ages, are more likely to be scammed as opposed to themselves,” Fredrichs said. “The way these scams happen is that young people will often get emails or phone calls from businesses that offer jobs or ways to increase their income.”

The BBB have reports of numerous scams that offer hurricane victims FEMA-related jobs to targeted young people. Also, there are offers for people to earn up to $300 by becoming a secret shopper, but people who applied for that have lost a significant amount of money as a result.

“Last month, on Sept. 14, we got a call from a young lady who applied for a job that she thought was offered to her by FEMA but later on, after applying, she found out that she lost $2,900,” Fredrichs said. “What happened is that when applying she included her bank information including her routing number and credit card number assuming it was needed for the job to pay her in the form of direct deposit.”

Michelle Brewer, director of consumer education at BBB, said young people are also the target of “spoofing,” where they get calls from their own phone number. People respond as they believe it is a call from their service provider.

“This scam is done to try to steal personal information and even money,” she said.

There are ways to prevent being scammed, Friedrichs said. The BBB’s website, www.bbb.org, has a list of various scams that have occurred in Southeast Texas. The site includes information on how to recognize scams and take action if one has been victimized.

“We have articles which includes the top-10 categories of scamming and it also shows steps on how to avoid these scams from happening,” she said. “The best thing that anyone should do, as soon as they get an email or a phone call from an unknown business and they ask for your information for whatever reason, you need to immediately find out the organization.

“Once you find the organization, you need to look up the organization on our website and see if it’s on there — if it is not, then it is not real.” She said “also never be to quick to just give out your personal information you must always find out the reasoning that your information is reading because once it’s out there it’s out there.”

For more information contact the Better Business Bureau at 835-5951, or visit www.bbb.org.

Story by Joseph Brooks, UP contributor

Learn more about Lamar University at lamar.edu

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