Fraud Tips For Teens

Teens, beware – adults aren’t the only ones who have to guard against fraud. See how scammers are targeting you.

A man standing outside, using his cell phone and has a credit card in hand.

There has been a significant rise in the number of scams involving kids and teens, more so than older adults. From 2017 to 2022, money lost by Gen Z grew 2,500% compared to 805% for seniors according to a study done by Social Catfish.

An active presence online and limited life experiences have made teens an easy target for fraudsters. There’s no denying it’s important to familiarize yourself with common practices to avoid becoming a victim yourself.

4 Most Common Scams

Scholarships, Grants, & Financial Aid

Looking for financial assistance to pay for college can be overwhelming. Scammers take advantage and use a variety of schemes to target students with fraudulent offers, often resulting in loss of money or even identity theft.

Look out for websites or companies that require small payments or offer money-back guarantees before providing an application – that’s an immediate red flag. It’s best to work directly with the schools that you’re applying to and use the FAFSA website when applying for financial aid. The Federal Trade Commission website has more information on these types of scams and how you can avoid them.

Social Media

With how active kids and teens are on social media, it makes sense that fraudsters target them there.  Watch out for fake social media profiles posing as an acquaintance, popular celebrity, or corporate brand. Avoid online quizzes that request personal information as well as clickbait that uses shocking headlines to entice you to click on malicious links.

Scammers are artist and can make non-reputable apps or programs appear legit. If a one-time payment is required before downloading anything, take that as your warning sign. Be smart and don’t give financial or personal information out before doing your research.

Card Cracking

This is a variation of check cashing fraud, with the addition of ATM cards. Scammers will convince you to give them your debit card and private account information, including your PIN and online login details. In exchange, the scammer will deposit one or more fake or stolen checks into your account, often using a mobile app or ATM. Why would you do this? They’ve promised you a portion of the funds without you having to do anything.

When the money lands in your account, they’ll use your card information to withdraw their portion or all of the funds. By the time you’re notified the check was returned, it’s too late. In some cases, there’s even a chance you could be considered an accomplice in this illegal scheme.

Skill Or Talent Contests

Another popular scam involves skill-based contests which urge teens to enter artwork, music compositions, or creative writing in order to win money or get published. If you “win”, you’re asked for personal information that’ll give them access to your financial accounts to transfer the prize money or are asked to pay for the published work. It’s best not to engage with these types of contests and instead report them, block the user, and delete any messages.


Cyber fraud is growing at a rapid pace and new scams targeting teens are popping up regularly. If something seems too good to be true, it probably is. If you’re not sure, always do your research and exercise caution.

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Life Guidance for:

Fraud Protection

You work hard for your money. We want to help protect it by sharing tips to help recognize scams, deter fraudsters, and take appropriate action if you fall victim.

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