Millennials likely to fall victim to scams

At least 90 percent of the time, money is the reason for scams, said Stephen Putman, chief information officer of Information Technology Services. “Millennials are more open and sharing, and that makes it easier sometimes to get scammed,” he said.

As students return from holidays filled with online shopping, it is important to consider whom they share personal information with.

Millennials are more likely to fall victim to scams than Baby Boomers due to Millennials taking more risks online and putting themselves in compromising positions, according to the Better Business Bureau.

“Millennials tend to want to share too much sometimes,” said Stephen Putman, chief information officer of UNA Information Technology Services. “I think Millennials are more open and sharing, and that makes it easier sometimes to get scammed. I think social media plays a big part in scamming the millennial generation.”

Putman said scammers and hackers can go onto someone’s Facebook, Instagram or other social media account and find personal information, such as what the person likes and who that person’s friends are. Scammers can target an attack based on that information.

“I would say 90 percent of the time or more the reason for scams is money,” he said. “Even if they’re trying to put a door into your computer to put some sort of tracking software on there so that as you go to online banking sites etc., they can grab that information. Every once in a while, (scams) are just to cause destruction and be a general pest, but the majority of time it’s all about money.”

Putman said the best way for students to protect themselves and avoid scams is security.

“Always use strong, complex passwords, don’t do online banking or other sensitive things when you are on public Wi-Fi and just be alert,” he said. “If you aren’t sure about something, don’t click on it. Pay attention to what you’re clicking on and what you are doing.”

Putman advises students to be careful about what information they share on social media. Information that someone is planning to use in a password should never be put on social media, such as their birth date.

He said social media should always be treated as a need-to-know basis and don’t share anything that the entire world should not see.

Regardless of what age group or generation, education is the key to reducing scams.

Junior Stephanie Johnston said she notices scam attempts occasionally in emails.

“Instead of it would be or something similar,” Johnston said. “I have also had a scam attempt from a fake PayPal. It was an email asking me to verify my account; and I was immediately asked for my Social Security number which I knew better than to type in.”

Putman said scammers are likely to target each generation differently.

“In my personal experience, whether Millennials, Baby Boomers or Generation X, I haven’t seen one group that is any more susceptible than others,” Putman said. “I do think that if I am the scammer or the hacker, I would target each of those areas differently.

“If I wanted to target the Baby Boomers, I would probably target them with pop-ups that say ‘You’re infected, click here,’ and then they click there thinking they are doing the right thing, but that is when they get infected. If I wanted to target the Millennials, then I would try something like, ‘Click here for 10 free Uber rides.’”

Senior Jacob Dawson said he believes Millennials not only use the internet more than Baby Boomers, but the generations use technology differently.

“Millennials as a group use the internet with more instances of risky behavior such as downloading and sharing media, visiting questionable websites and installing phony updates,” Dawson said. “Essentially, lack of experience and behavioral trends displayed by young people may increase their exposure and susceptibility to scams.”