PENNSYLVANIA, USA — A new study done by Social Catfish, an identity verification website, reveals Pennsylvanians lost a lot of money to online scams in 2020.
The study says residents have lost money, so much so that the state ranks eighth on the list of the top states to lose money in online scams.
Pennsylvanians lost more than $108 million in 2020 to online scams, according to the study.
As what may come as a surprise to some, younger people are becoming victims to online scams more often. Victims aged 20 and younger have shown the fastest growth rate in being scammed since 2017, with a 52 percent surge of victims in that age group.
Social Catfish says that the top platforms where the most people were scammed upon were:
- Google Hangouts
The scams costing victims the most money are business email compromise scams.
These are phishing scams that target work email addresses with a fake business invoice or pretending to be the CEO or another manager in charge asking for money urgently.
The second most common online scam is the romance scam, where victims send money to people they've formed relationships with over the internet who turn out to be scammers.
Social Catfish offers a few tips to avoid being scammed:
- Do not give money to someone on the Internet whom you have never met in person.
- Do not give out your personal information to someone with whom you are talking online.
- Keep updated with resources, such as the State of Internet Scams 2021 Scam Guide.
- Do not trust that someone is who they say they are without at least video chatting with them or meeting them in person first.
- If they have a job overseas, this is a huge red flag that they might be a scammer since they usually use this as an excuse to not see you or video chat with you.
- If someone is randomly contacting you out of the blue on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter, it usually means that a scammer is on the other side.
- Make sure to have a password manager to create many passwords for your accounts. This will prevent scammers from easily guessing your passwords.
- Use AI technology to find scam emails before they can fool you into thinking they are real.
- Search up your email on our email address reverse search to make sure your information hasn’t been compromised by a data breach.
- If you have been a victim of identity theft, please report your case to IdentityTheft.gov for further assistance in recovering your identity.
- Report any scam that you have been a part of immediately to the FTC, IC3, and FBI.
If you've become victim to a scam, you can report it to law enforcement. However, these crimes are difficult to pursue because many scammers are from outside the U.S. where law enforcement does not have jurisdiction.