Are senior investors really so helpless?

A recent study examines why there may be excessive focus on protecting older investors

While policymakers have often espoused the importance of protecting senior investors, new research suggests that millennials are not immune to shady scams and schemes.

A BBB study titled Cracking the Invulnerability Illusion, which polled more than 2,000 people in the US and Canada, has found a popular perception of scam victims as “elderly, alone, and pitiable”, or “gullible and unintelligent”.

However, the study finds an opposing reality: younger and better-educated people are more likely to be caught up in a fraud. Respondents were asked if they had lost any money in a scam in the prior year, and the ones who admitted to being taken in were both younger and more likely to be highly educated than the overall sample.

Broken down by age group, the data shows that more than 30% of those between the ages of 24 and 35 have been swindled, making millennials the most likely group to suffer a financial loss due to a con. Respondents aged 75 or older were least likely to report a loss.

Acknowledging that underreporting and other factors makes determining the true demographic composition of scam victims complicated, the BBB study ends with a sobering takeaway.

"The image of the elderly and/or gullible victim is so entrenched that a conscious effort to tell the stories of victims who do not fit this image may be helpful in counterbalancing these false perceptions toward an understanding that fraud is a pervasive threat to which no one is immune," the report concludes.

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