A surprising new study has found that one particular scam is hitting a specific group of consumers harder than other groups, and you might think this group would know better.
According to a recent survey conducted by First Orion, a provider of data and phone call transparency solutions, the so-called Millennials—typically those who were born between 1982 and 2000—actually get fewer scam calls than other age-group demographics, but they are far more likely to provide their personal information to a thief who contacts them. In First Orion’s survey, Millenials were six times more likely to provide their credit card information to a caller, and almost twice as likely to supply their Social Security number to a phone scammer when it was requested. Approximately 17% of Millennials responded that they would supply more information if the caller had verified the last four digits of their Social Security number.
How does that compare to consumers in other generations? In the same scenario involving the last four digits of the SSN, only 3.2% of Gen Xers and 2% of Baby Boomers said they would supply further personal identifiable information.
The Millennials are the generation that grew up with technology, the so-called “digital natives” you could call on to fix your smartphone or set up your iPad. So why would they be more likely than less stereotypically tech-savvy generations to fall for a phone scam, especially one that could lead to identity theft? The way they grew up, surrounded by computers and handheld devices and everywhere-wifi, just might have something to do with it.
While some consumers might be a little more cautious about this newfangled internet and their personal privacy, Millennials have never lived in a time when desktop computers didn’t exist, even if they weren’t quite as widespread as they are now. Also, Millennials made up most of the early adopters of social media, meaning they were at the forefront of sharing every aspect of their lives with others online. It could be a certain level of naivety that leads them to think phone scammers aren’t stealing their information, but at the same, it might very well be an underlying belief that there’s really no such thing as privacy in the digital age.
No matter why you might be tempted to give out your personal information, it’s important to remember that citizens of every generation are facing a new first: record-setting numbers of data breaches and hacking events, year after year. Identity theft continues to plague consumers, and safeguarding your personal information—as well as taking on an air of caution about where your data ends up—is one of the best ways to reduce your risk of identity theft.
First Orion is a financial supporter of the Identity Theft Resource Center.