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Special Report: Falling Victim

(NEWSCHANNEL 3) – Scams are all over the place and thieves are trying every trick they can to steal your identity and your money.

The West Michigan Better Business Bureau says that scammers currently have their sights set on younger generations.

From fake check fraud to the tech support sham, scams are all around, but who most frequently falls victim? Is it baby boomers, millennials, the greatest generation or generations x and y?

The BBB says that millennials are most likely to fall victim to scams.

Phil Catlett with the Better Business Bureau says that over-confidence is the exact reason that scammers are preying on younger generations.

“Lack of experience,” said Catlett. “We think of millennials being real tech savvy and aware of everything going on, but how can you be when you’re 25 or 30 years old? You just haven’t had the life experiences that an older person has.”

A big problem facing millennials is the trust factor. They’ve grown up plugged into devices, but do you put your trust into your phone, because you don’t always know who is on the other end, trying to get your information.

“We’re a generation that’s been revolved around social media,” said Kalamazoo College Senior Paig Sambor, “so I think we’ve grown in a society where we’re believed to trust more people compared to other generations where there’s been a lot more violence and crime.”

MIT trained software developer Dr. Richard Stallman agrees.

“It makes sense in a way because what millennials are good at is doing things that technology invites them to do and giving their passwords is what phishing technology invites them to do,” said Dr. Stallman. “They know how to get things done, that doesn’t mean they’re accustomed to thinking about the hidden dangers.”

So, what are the top scams millennials are falling for? The fake check swindle, the work-from-home con and student loan shakedowns.

“One of those was this federal student tax and that was just somebody getting a market list of people in this age group, so it’s a high probability that they might have this particular situation and they just hit them with a ‘hey, you owe a federal student tax,’” said Catlett, “and unless someone takes the time to see what this is really all about and is there such a thing as a federal student tax, they might just pay it to be done with.”

The experts say it’s important to not just give in and to take extra precautions to protect yourself.

“Be humble,” said Catlett. “Be aware that none of us knows everything, in fact the more I see, the less I know.”

“They should be distrustful,” said Dr. Stallman, “but they already have the habits of using the devices. It’s much harder to stop than it is not to start.”

If you don’t believe those two, take it from a fellow millennial on what to look out for.

“Any kind of social media. If it seems bizarre or their information doesn’t go with what you think it is,” said Sambor. “Be careful who you’re following on social media, I say and be careful about the links and the ads, especially on websites, that come up.”

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