susceptible to scamsDespite common beliefs and assumptions, the truth of the matter is that anyone can get scammed. According to a report by the BBC, in two experiments designed to replicate scam solicitations, a vulnerable subtype couldn’t be identified. In fact, the report notes, “There were no significant differences based on age, gender or other demographics we looked at.” Not surprising, especially given what we see in the real world, where professional scammers can wheedle money out of the right person under the right circumstances. From telling people what they want to believe to getting people to react emotionally, scammers can be masters of manipulation and experts at conning anyone.

That said, while anyone could fall for a scam, some studies (detailed below) and former scammers suggest that certain traits make a person more susceptible to scams. Wondering if you have one of them? Keep reading to find out if you may be more susceptible to scams and what to do if you are.

You have difficulty exercising emotional control

Some may assume that a person’s susceptibility to scams has to do with how “smart” they are, but falling prey to a scam has nothing to do with that. In fact, in the words of a former con artist, “You would be amazed at how many doctors, lawyers, engineers and college professors I ripped off … Those who believe they’d never fall for a scam don’t realize it’s not about how smart you are; it’s about how well you control your emotions.”

As we’ve covered in past posts, scammers often turn to persuasive tactics to convince you to pay up. This can come in the form of a scammer trying to pressure or rush you into making a decision, entice you with offers that sound too good to be true or manipulate emotional soft spots. This point is important to keep in mind because when you’re put on the spot by a scammer or when their sales pitch excites you immensely, the difference between being able to take a step back and think rationally or not can be the key to determining if you’re becoming their next victim. When making decisions pertaining to money, those who get scammed tend to be unable to separate their emotional needs from those financial decisions, allowing them to fall prey to a scammer’s persuasion skills.

You’re a risk-taker who is always on the lookout for a good bargain

Common wisdom says that bargains, great discounts, the latest steals and promising investments are good to seek out — after all, who doesn’t want to save money and make more bucks? However, when it comes to hearing about these big discounts and promises, be it through the phone, hearsay, social media or other means, always be cautious. That’s because it’s possible that these grandiose deals are scams. Something else to keep in mind? According to Forbes, if someone is a greater risk-taker, they are more likely to be scammed. So, exercise caution: if an unsolicited offer comes your way and sounds too good to be true, it likely is.

Furthermore, if you’re the type who regularly coupons and who’s constantly on the lookout for the next big deal, take heed, as it’s possible that you may be increasing your exposure to scams if you’re scavenging for offers and ignoring good cybersecurity practices, like making sure you’re not using fake websites.

You’re a millennial (or not)

Contrary to widespread belief, the senior population might not be the most susceptible to scams in the U.S., according to various reports. Based on the BBB Institute for Marketplace Trust’s research, “younger and more educated individuals are actually the most likely to be scammed.” The FTC’s Consumer Sentinel Network Data Book 2017 reports that a higher number of people in their 20s reported monetary loss from fraud than those age 70 or older.

That said, according to CNBC, victims tend to underreport scams, and the FBI writes that older Americans have a lower probability of reporting fraud. So, if you aren’t a millennial, it’s wise to avoid resting too easily just because of the stats mentioned in the paragraph above. Even if you aren’t a millennial, any age demographic is susceptible to scams. In fact, older consumers can be prone to scams too, and the FTC’s report shows that when it comes to the median amount of money lost to scammers, older consumers tend to lose more. As such, you’ll want to remain vigilant no matter your age and how much life experience you have.

You’re under trying life circumstances

Another sign that you could be more susceptible to scams? If you’re under trying life circumstances. Those who find themselves struggling with challenging situations, such as unemployment and emotional distress, could be more at risk of getting scammed. That’s because a scammer could potentially dig into your personal, emotional needs, manipulating you to get what they want through sweet talk or threats. We see this frequently with dating scams (when scammers prey on those desperate for romantic partners) and other schemes.

Knowing how to identify and protect yourself can make you less susceptible to scams

All this information about susceptibility and scams can seem overwhelming, but there is a way to lessen your stress and decrease your susceptibility to scams – learning more about how to identify and prevent scams. There are several actions you can take to protect yourself, including being cautious about what you post on social media, practicing good cybersecurity habits and not giving your money or personal information in response to unsolicited interactions. By doing so, you can better avoid getting conned and caught up in nasty situations.

To learn more about what you can do to reduce your chances of getting scammed or what to do if you’ve been scammed, check our scams blog.