Why Millennials are Most Likely to Fall for IRS Scams

By ASR Staff,

The term “con man” derived from an expression used in the 1900s to describe individuals who managed to swindle unsuspecting folk out of their hard-earned cash. Although con men have evolved over the years, the aim is always the same: find a mark gullible enough to fall for a scam. According to a recent First Orion survey, IRS scam artists, the con men of today, have the most luck hoodwinking Millennials due to several traits exhibited by this generation.

Optimist & Overconfident

Millennials, the generation currently aged 18-35, are a unique group. One generational trait of Millennials is that they are exceedingly optimistic — possibly to a fault. Though optimism alone is not a bad thing, when paired with the another Millennial trait, overconfidence, it can prove detrimental when an IRS scam is added into the equation. When surveyed, 65 percent of Millennials said they believed themselves to be impervious to identity theft, while only 50 percent of Generation Xers and 46 percent of Baby Boomers felt confident that they could dodge this bullet.

Millennials’ optimism makes them believe that there is a happy ending to every scenario, while confidence in their ability to successfully navigate technology and identify potential scams means that they are often caught off-guard when confronted with nefarious schemes.

Trusting of Technology

Another factor that makes members of this generation prime candidates for IRS scams is that, since they grew up in the age of technology, they are used to sharing details online. If one receives a phone call asking for personal information, they are more likely to give it. Even though Baby Boomers and Gen Xers encounter IRS phone scams more frequently than phone call-phobic Millennials, it is the younger generation that gives out sensitive information, such as Social Security numbers and credit card data, much more frequently than their predecessors.


Millennials are also not very well-versed in the practices of the IRS, and many have not even filed individual tax returns before. In order to protect themselves from online and phone scams, Millennials should know how the IRS operates. For instance, citizens will never receive an email from the IRS asking for personal, sensitive information, nor should one receive an electronic correspondence from them requesting tax details about an inheritance, lottery winnings or a large investment. This simply should not occur. If it does, the IRS instructs the receiver not to open it. It is likely laden with malicious code. Do not click any included links. If one inadvertently opens the email or clicks any of its links, that individual should immediately consider identity theft protection. The email should be forwarded to the IRS at phishing@irs.gov and then immediately deleted.


Further research on Millennials asserts that though business and tech-savvy, these individuals have lead sheltered lives, often protected from the harsh realities of the world by their sometimes overly-concerned, possibly helicoptering parents. This information from the Center for Generational Kinetics points to the fact that previous generations learned to fact-check but Millennials have not; so they seldom investigate the validity of a claim.

Millennials’ naivety and lack of life experience may make them the perfect mark for these kinds of cons, but they’re not hopeless. The appropriate research and reliance on identity theft protection services can help them buck the stereotype and keep them safe.

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