Disclaimer: The below is solely intended for informational purposes and in no way constitutes legal advice or specific recommendations.
Your willingness to take chances might pay off playing poker on a Saturday night, but that habit puts you at higher risk for becoming a victim of online fraud, too.
In a survey by AARP, researchers set out to better understand why some people fall for online scams and others do not.
Their findings reveal that victims of online fraud share the following behaviors:
More active online
The more active you are online, the higher your chances are of crossing paths with a scammer.
A variety of activities contribute to this exposure, including clicking on pop-up ads, opening emails from unknown senders, shopping from an ecommerce stores, signing up for free trials and downloading apps.
Victims were also more likely to post personal information on social media than non-victims.
Lesson: Be aware of how often you’re signing up for online offers or clicking on links in emails. Phishing scams are relentless.
“I do things that are bad for me, even if they are fun.”
“I don’t mind taking chances with my money, as long as I think there’s a chance it might pay off.”
Do you agree with these statements?
If you answered yes, you might want to watch yourself. Individuals who agreed with these statements on impulsivity measures were more likely to be fraud victims.
Lesson: Scammers commonly use fear tactics to get you to do something. Before acting too quickly, determine if what you’re reacting to truly gives you reason to be concerned.
Worry about debt
When asked if they had more debt than they could handle, 69 percent of victims reported that they did, while 57 percent of non-victims reported they did not.
Lesson: As Bob Dylan once wrote, “Money doesn’t talk, it swears”. Remember that money and debt matters should never be taken so stringently that they cause you to fall for a scam out of desperation.
Surely by now you’ve heard the story of the conman who used online dating sites to defraud lonely singles looking for love and companionship.
Scams like this happen all the time, unfortunately, because they work. Loneliness has a way of making us vulnerable. And when we’re vulnerable, we become much more trusting – especially when we shouldn’t be.
Lesson: Develop a strong social network of friends you know you can trust.
Experience more negative life events
If you’ve lost a job, had a change in financial status occur or been stressed about moving, your chances of becoming a victim of fraud just went up.
AARP’s findings show that experiencing negative life events – including divorce, injury or illness – is significantly correlated to fraud victimization.
Lesson: Not only do scammers target the vulnerable, but the vulnerable are also weak to suggestion or a “great offer” in the wake of a negative life event, putting them at greater risk of fraud. Keep this in mind the next time life gets you down.
Don’t be a victim of fraud
You can only walk into the trap of a con artist if you aren’t aware of the specific ways one likes to operate. That includes how they target your own habits and behaviors. If you find yourself worrying about debt or being impulsive, STOP. Approach your online activities in a more cautious manner.