This Is the Age Group Most Likely to Fall for Phone Scams—and No, It’s Not Baby Boomers

Turns out, being better with technology doesn't mean you're smarter against hackers.

phone scamKostenko Maxim/ShutterstockWhen you think of people most at risk for scamming, who comes to mind? As it turns out, your grandma might not be the person in your family most likely to give away private information.

Call management company First Orion surveyed 1,000 American mobile phone users and found out that even though Millennials were less likely to get scam calls (like these common phone scams), they were more likely to give away personal information. Millennials aren’t likely to own a home phone, or these other items their generation has “killed.”

With 2.4 percent of Millennials willing to give away credit card information to scammers over the phone, they were six times more likely than Generation X and Baby Boomers to let phishers spend their money (meanwhile, Gen Z’ers will never own these products.)

Even scarier? A whopping 17 percent of Millennials were likely to give personal information if a caller already knew the last four digits of their Social Security number. On the other hand, Gen X and Baby Boomers were way more protective, with only 3.2 and 2 percent, respectively, admitting they’d do the same.

Some Millennials’ lax security comes from mindset. Just 35 percent of Millennials consider themselves at risk of identity theft, while 50 percent of Gen X and 54 percent Baby Boomers say the same.

It might seem backwards that digital natives are so clueless when it comes to phone safety, but it’s actually consistent with how they use technology, says Eva Velasquez, CEO and president of Identity Theft Resource Center, who was not involved with the survey. After all, growing up in the tech age, some might figure nothing is private because everything is already on the Internet. “They post their lunch and think nothing of it. Nothing is sacred,” says Velasquez. After all, they probably already know this Google feature shows the scary amount of information it knows.

While older generations might have been warier when they first ran into websites that asked for personal information, giving away phone numbers and email addresses is commonplace for anyone growing up with the Internet. With most times being totally safe, it’s easy to forget that some callers and websites aren’t legitimate. “They don’t have that same sense of remembering you don’t know who’s on the other end of the phone or computer screen because they have had so many transactions that haven’t gone south,” says Velasquez. Keeping your wits about you will keep you safe from this four-word phone scam.

No matter what your age, Velasquez says the best way to keep sensitive information to yourself is to “trust no one.” So if someone claiming to be from your bank calls you, hang up and get the customer service number from the back of your credit card. “You know who you’re talking to because you initiated that contact,” says Velasquez. If your bank really was trying to get in touch, great! You’re all ears. But if not, you just saved yourself from falling victim to a crook.

Protect yourself from Internet scams, too, by learning these tips for protecting yourself online.

Marissa Laliberte
Marissa Laliberte-Simonian is a London-based associate editor with the global promotions team at WebMD’s and was previously a staff writer for Reader's Digest. Her work has also appeared in Business Insider, Parents magazine, CreakyJoints, and the Baltimore Sun. You can find her on Instagram @marissasimonian.