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(BPT) - A vulnerable elder, who is less experienced with technology, often comes to mind when you picture a common target of online fraud. However, new research suggests younger consumers may be at higher risk. According to the 2023 Telesign Trust Index survey, millennials are more than four times as likely to experience fraud than their parents or even their grandparents.

This is just one of several surprising survey findings that challenge popular stereotypes around online fraud. Check out the survey's five surprising findings about digital fraud and learn how to protect yourself online.

1. More time online increases your risk

The more time you spend online, the more likely you are to be a victim of fraud, according to the survey. While people of all ages use the internet, younger generations use it more often. The survey found that 75% of 18- to 34-year-olds spend three or more hours online a day, making them statistically more likely to become a target of digital fraud.

Spending less time online seems like a simple solution to digital security, but that's not an option for many consumers, especially younger folks who work, play and socialize online. Staying vigilant, visiting secure websites, and using discretion when communicating with others online can go a long way in protecting you from fraud. It's also a good idea to look into online security services and apps to protect you on all your devices.

2. Women are more likely to be targets of fraud

The Telesign Trust Index found that 66% of fraud victims were women, compared to 34% of men. As above, it comes back to time spent online. Women, on average, spend more time on their mobile devices daily than men.

You can protect yourself by being aware that your time online provides more opportunities for would-be fraudsters to interact with you. With this knowledge, approach online interactions such as buying and selling products or socializing with new people with caution. If something or someone sounds too good to be true, chances are high that it's a scam.

3. Households with children spend more time online

The survey revealed that respondents with children in their households spend statistically more time online per day compared to those without children. That means that children and adults in these households are more likely to encounter fraud.

Talking with your children about online safety is critical to keeping them — and you — safe while using the internet. Additionally, you should use or install parental controls to limit and monitor how your children spend their time online. Vigilance is key to protecting your household from online threats.

4. Consumers believe companies are responsible for users' digital security

While individuals can and should exercise caution online, predicting and averting all threats is impossible, especially data breaches. In these cases, 94% of consumers agreed that businesses are responsible for protecting their digital privacy.

Providing digital privacy and security should be every company's priority. Failing to protect consumers from even a single breach or data leak can cause significant harm to a company's reputation and bottom line. According to the survey, 43% of data breach victims stopped associating with the brand altogether and 44% told friends and family not to associate with the brand.

To protect consumers and their own reputations, companies should increase their safeguards to prevent consumers' identity and financial information from being accessed by scammers.

5. Fraud risk is more than just financial loss

The most obvious risk of online fraud is loss of money. Of the 30% of consumers surveyed who experienced fraud in the past three years, 61% reported financial losses and one-third reported losses of more than $1,000.

However, consumers can lose more than just money. About 40% of respondents said they experienced mental health concerns connected to an instance of online fraud and 44% characterized the incident as having a negative impact on their lives.

To protect your money and emotional health, be careful where and how you share your financial information online. Make sure the sites you visit are secure and look for trustworthy signals like a TLS/SSL certificate or the Telesign Trust Certified Badge, which signifies that the company has been verified as a defender of a safe and secure digital environment. Website seals and trust badges help to convey that a website is secure with your personal or financial information. Keep an eye on your credit card statements and sign up for online bank monitoring.

Anyone can be a target for online fraud, but arming yourself with knowledge can help you stay safe while enjoying the internet. To learn more about the survey results and to download the report, visit the Telesign Trust Index.