Although it is widely thought that the elderly are the most susceptible to these schemes, Donna says that everyone is at risk to fall prey. In fact, her research found that people between the ages of 29 and 44 are most likely to be victims because they are out in the marketplace the most.
Here's what you can do to defend yourself:
- Don't be overconfident. "The first step is getting over the idea that you are too smart to be scammed," Donna says.
- Be careful of every suspicious communication—even if it comes from a friend. This is called affinity fraud, and occurs when someone you know tells you about a "great opportunity" you can get involved in or asks you to invest in something. This person may not even know that they are involved in a scam. The best defense, according to Donna, is to do research, both by asking around and searching the Internet.
- Be extra cautious if you've recently fallen on hard times. If something traumatic has happened in your life or you're overly stressed about money, know that you are more susceptible to scams.
- Ask questions.
- Know that if it sounds too good to be true, chances are it is.