Who’s Most Likely to Fall for Social Media Scams?

Social media scams are everywhere. Whether you are using Facebook, X, TikTok, Instagram, or Snapchat, chances are you will eventually encounter one or more scam attempts. According to the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, one in four people who reported losing money to fraud since 2021 said that it all started on social media. But who is more likely to fall for scams and why should you care? Read on to find out.

Most Victims of Social Media Scams are Young Adults

Many of us have the image of older adults sharing fake news with their friends over platforms such as Facebook. The most common victims of online fraud, however, are the ones who spend plenty of time online.

According to the earlier mentioned report by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, younger users are more affected by social media scams than anyone else, accounting for 38% of all social media-related scams.

social media scam alert

About half of teens aged 18 and 19 who have been the victims of fraud reported social media as the contact method.

The main reason why most victims of this type of fraud are young is because they spend a lot of time online.

Another possible factor is a tendency within this demographic to be attracted to new trends, such as cryptocurrency investments and bitcoins.

Older adults are more likely to become victims of more traditional scams, such as phone calls or malware-infected websites and apps. They have lower digital skills, which also puts them at risk of becoming victims of specific scams.

For example, many older adults may be less aware of the presence of fake Facebook accounts and less likely to doubt someone pretending to be a relative.

Scam Types Tend to Vary by Demographic Groups

Different demographics tend to use the Internet differently. Not surprisingly, scams also tend to vary with demography.

For instance, young people are more likely to fall victim to investment and romance scams.

It is relatively common on some social media platforms to receive messages or see ads informing you of cryptocurrency investment opportunities that allegedly offer high returns.

Middle-aged adults, on the other hand, are more likely to experience phishing and job scams.

Such scams usually include messages from individuals with suspicious profiles. Another example is receiving a good-to-be-true job offer with a payment request.

Finally, older adults may be more likely to experience health and tech support scams.

For example, some seniors report receiving messages from individuals claiming to be from a tech company and informing them of a virus on their computer.

They offer to fix the problem in exchange for a fee, attempting to get access to the elderly person’s computer and sensitive information. Another example is receiving fake offers for medical products or services that are never delivered.

Some Psychological and Social Factors also Predispose People to Being Scammed

People react to new and old situations in different ways. For instance, some people are more likely than others to quickly reply to messages and open links, while others spend time investigating the senders.

Research shows that people who quickly respond to unfamiliar messages are more likely to make poor judgments. A tendency to seek thrills was also found to correlate with the likelihood of becoming the victim of fraud.

Moving to the corporate setting, a study reported in Psychology Today found that the susceptibility to becoming the victim of a phishing attack varied by position in the organizational knowledge structure and the cognitive demands of workgroup reasonability.

While these studies investigate the likelihood of falling victim to fraud in the online environment as a whole, the results may be similar in a study focused specifically on social media.

Just like an email, a message received over Facebook, X, or similar platforms can contain links to malware, demands for personal information, or payment requests.

Fast responses to messages and unwarranted trust in online strangers can lead to the loss of financial data or other problems regardless of the context in which the interaction takes place.

Watching Out for Common Scams Can Save you Time and Money

Regardless of your age and occupation, the likelihood of becoming the victim of fraud is not zero.

By thoroughly investigating strangers who contact you on social media and keeping an eye on common scam tactics, you have a good chance of protecting yourself against the loss of personal data or money.

One way to find information about strangers is by using people search websites. Nuwber, for example, provides details about people by name, phone number, and address.

You will find their age, contact information, criminal records, and other useful data that will help you confirm if they are pretending to be someone else.

Keep in mind that finding information about an individual is a necessary but not always sufficient condition for being sure you are not on the verge of being scammed.

Social media accounts are often fake, and some people pretend to be someone else. As such, always use multiple sources of information before assessing whether you should trust someone and to what extent.

Bottom Line

While everyone can fall victim to all sorts of social media tricks, knowing who is most likely to fall for specific fraud attempts can help you be more vigilant in the contexts that matter the most to you.

For example, if you are an elderly individual, be extra vigilant when being offered miracle cures for specific medical conditions or technical support.

If you are a young adult, be more careful than usual with messages that attempt to persuade you to invest in cryptocurrencies or give money to someone who pretends to be someone you know.

Last but not least, keep in mind that as the Internet evolves, so do illegitimate methods of making money or getting other personal gains.

By doing your best to maintain a high level of digital knowledge and prevent rushing into trusting strangers, you may well avoid any social media scams you can think of.