Scams Targeted at Teens

by Chris Bjorklund


Your teens may not realize it, but fraud predators see them as easy targets due to their lack of life experience. They may be preyed upon in a variety of ways, ranging from identity theft to money scams. Unlike earlier generations, they’re more likely to share information about themselves online without thinking about the possible consequences. Some of these innocent mistakes can ruin a young person’s credit, put them in debt or cause problems that can linger. 

Some of the most common scams targeting your children or grandchildren won’t surprise you. Apartment scams involve advertising a rental that may not exist—imposter landlords collect large deposits and disappear into thin air. Employment scams may require down payments for equipment and training, and if the teen provides their direct deposit information, the perps can access their bank account. 

Young people do a lot of online buying and selling on craigslist and eBay. Sending items before payments are cleared is a common mistake. Some buyers use stolen credit cards to make purchases and you may not find out until after the merchandise is sent. Young consumers often unknowingly purchase counterfeit items or knock-offs online, thinking they found a good deal. Sometimes the items never even arrive. 

Here are a few more warnings for teens from fraud experts. Scholarship, grant and student loan scams have been around as long as young people have been looking for ways to pay for college. Red flags include asking for application fees and reams of financial information upfront. And be on the lookout for phony Instagram sweepstakes, online auctions, weight loss scams and bogus essay contests. 

When you talk to your teens about protecting themselves from fraud, here’s some good advice from Investopedia

  • Don’t click on links that you don’t recognize.
  • Be skeptical about unsolicited messages and invitations.
  • Check a website’s online reviews before proceeding. 
  • Never pay to enter a contest, apply for a job or seek a scholarship. 
  • Don’t be afraid to tell your parents or someone you trust if you think you’ve been defrauded. 

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