Increase in Online Scams Among Teens

A recent study by found a 156% increase in people under the age of 20 falling for online scams over the past three years, targeted by cybercriminals.

It's no surprise that teenagers are super tech-savvy. Having been born in the era of smartphones and social media, they can navigate just about anything digitally with ease. But, turns out, the "Gen Zers" are also easy targets and are falling for online scams at a higher rate than seniors, according to A record $4.2 billion was lost by Americans to online scams in 2020. $71 million of that, was from people under the age of 20.

Seniors are still the most vulnerable group overall with 105,301 victims losing $966 million in 2020, but the recent surge among Gen Z is a bit concerning.

Here is a list of five common scams targeting teens from and how you can prevent your teen from becoming another statistic.

1. Job Scams: Scammers capitalized on job postings during the pandemic when it was difficult for many young adults to find work. They would post fake jobs and then request advanced payment for training. During the application process, they will ask for personal information and then use it to drain your bank account and commit identity theft.

Talk to your teen about using caution when a job seems too good to be true or asks for payment prior to even starting the position. Never provide personal information or bank accounts until you have investigated the company thoroughly.

2. Instagram Influencer Scams: Scammers are creating fake accounts that look just like the actual influencer's account. There, they will host fake brand-sponsored contests and ask the "winner" to pay a fee or provide their bank account to claim the prize.

Talk to your teen about never sending money or bank account information via social media, no matter if you know the person, or not.

3. Romance Scams: Often known as catfishing, these scams happen when scammers steal photos of good-looking people and target vulnerable people online. They get the victim to fall in love and then begin asking for money. These can happen over the course of weeks, months, or even years.

Don't ever give money to anyone you meet online. If they refuse to video chat or meet in person, you can assume they are a scammer.

4. Sextortion Scams: The invention of smartphones led to sexting, which has now led to sextortion. This is when a scammer will pose as an attractive person on Snapchat or OnlyFans, hooks the vulnerable target, and moves the conversation to text. They then send an explicit photo and ask for one in return. Once received, they reveal themselves as a scammer and threaten to send the photo to all of your contacts and post the photo on the internet.

Avoid sending explicit photos online or by phone. Remember, if the person you are talking to refuses to meet in person or video chat, think twice about sending anything, as they are most likely a scammer.

5. Online Shopping Scams: These occur when scammers create fake websites that look like familiar online stores selling items at a huge discount. If you purchase from them, the item never arrives, they pocket the money and steal your payment method and personal information for future online theft.

If you're shopping on an unfamiliar website, do your due diligence and research the company. If the website is full of typos, or the customer service email address ends in "" or "," that is a red flag.

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