As scammers have become more aggressive, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and state tax authorities have been warning potential victims to be vigilant. Senior citizens are considered one of the most vulnerable groups when it comes to scams, but it turns out they might not be the most at risk. A survey suggests that millennials are more likely to fall for financial scams, including tax scams, than older generations.
First Orion, a company headquartered in Little Rock, Arkansas which provides data and phone call transparency solutions across multiple platforms, surveyed over 1,000 United States consumers and found that 75% have received a call they believed to be a scam. Topping the list of reported scams was, not surprisingly, calls involving IRS impersonations (27%) followed by cruise/vacation scams, and bank/credit card scams.
While millennials received fewer scam calls (73%) than Gen X (83%) or Baby Boomers (84%), they were more likely to give away personal information over the phone compared to any other generation. The survey found that millennials are six times more likely to give out credit card information and almost twice as likely to divulge their Social Security number to a scammer over the phone. Nearly 17% of millennials agreed that if a caller could verify the last four digits of their Social Security number, they would give away more personal information – that’s compared to just 3.2% of Gen X respondents and 2% of Baby Boomers.
Despite the fact that they are more willing to give out personal information, just 35% of millennials think they are at risk of identity theft, compared to 50% of Gen X and 54% of Baby Boomers.
Millennials are typically defined as those born between 1982 and 2000. Those that followed, sometimes called Gen X, are those born between 1966 and 1981 while Baby Boomers are considered to be those born between 1946 and 1965.
Why are millennials so confident that they won’t be victims even though they’re more likely to give out personal information? You may be able to blame social media. Millennials have grown up with the share button. They’ve learned to share a wealth of personal information – from birthdays to favorite dinner spots – so they may be less likely to balk when asked to share more personal data. And since they’re comfortable with the security of commercial websites and other data sites, they also may believe that technology will save them. In that regard, millennials aren’t alone: almost half of those surveyed believe it is their cell phone carrier’s responsibility to block scam and fraudulent calls or texts from coming to their phone.
Notwithstanding your level of confidence in dealing with potential scammers, the best course of action is to disengage. If you receive a call from someone claiming to be from the IRS, and you do not owe tax, or if you are immediately aware that it’s a scam, don’t engage with the scammer and do not give out any information, simply hang up. If you receive a telephone message from someone claiming to be from the IRS, and you do not owe tax, or if you are immediately aware that it’s a scam, don’t call them back. And if you receive a phone call from someone claiming to be with the IRS, and you owe tax or think you may owe tax, do not give out any information. Call the IRS back at 1.800.829.1040 to find out more information.
You can also contact TIGTA to report scam calls by calling 1.800.366.4484 or by using the “IRS Impersonation Scam Reporting” form on the TIGTA website. You may also want to report the scam to the Federal Trade Commission by using the “FTC Complaint Assistant” to report persons pretending to be from the government.
Don’t fall for the tricks. Keep your personal information safe by remaining alert. For tips on protecting yourself from identity theft related tax fraud, click here.