When most people think of Millennials, traits that come to mind probably include tech-savvy, progressive-thinking, and maybe a bit entitled. As a Millennial myself, the first trait that comes to mind is certainly not “tax scam victim.” Well surprisingly, in addition to being most likely to still live in their parents’ basements, Millennials are also most likely to fall prey to tax scams.
According to a recent survey conducted by First Orion Group, an organization dedicated to studying and fighting scammers and telemarketers, Millennials were twice as likely to divulge their Social Security number to a phone scammer than any of their elder generations, and six times more likely to divulge credit card information. Nearly 17% of Millennial respondents stated that if a caller could verify the last four digits of their Social Security number, then they would be willing to provide further personal information. Compared to 3.2 % of Generation X and 2% of Baby Boomers, Millennials appear to be quite gullible.
Perhaps one factor is that because Millennials have grown up in an era where the sharing of information is so prevalent, they have been desensitized to the importance of handing out personal data. After all, how many websites and apps have my credit card and even Social Security info? More than I care to think about, frankly. And the numbers support this – according to the same study, only 35% of Millennial respondents believe they are susceptible to identity theft and other scams. Generation X and Boomers were both over 50%.
Has the digital era lured society and Millennials in particular, into a false sense of security? It certainly appears to be possible. Regardless of your age, it’s always good to keep in mind that the IRS will never call you and demand money or sensitive information. The IRS conducts nearly all correspondence via snail-mail, and any other correspondence will be scheduled beforehand, also via regular old mail. So if someone calls, emails, or knocks on your door claiming to be from the IRS, simply hang up the phone, close the email, or shut the door, and report any possible tax scams to the Treasury Inspector General at www.tigta.gov.
Austin M. Bradley, CPA