BBB: Adults 18-24 report highest scam risk in 2020


BUFFALO, N.Y. (March 1, 2021) Adults ages 18-24 reported the highest median losses ($150) and the highest likelihood of loss (56.6%) to BBB Scam TrackerSM in 2020, according to Better Business Bureau (BBB).

Top 10 Riskiest Scams of 2020

(Rank in 2020, rank in 2019)

1 ↑ 3 Online Purchase

2 ↓ 1 Employment

3 ↑ 4 Fake Check/Money Order

4 ↑ 5 Advance Fee Loan

5 ↑ 7 Home Improvement

6 - 6 Romance

7 ↓ 2 Cryptocurrency

8 ↑ 9 Tech Support

9 ↑ 10 Travel/Vacation/Timeshare

10↓ 8 Investment


Online Purchase Scam Types Ranked:
1. Pets and Pet Supplies
2. Medical / Nutrition
3. Motor Vehicles and Parts
4. Clothing / Accessories
5. Digital Devices
6. Footwear
7. Fitness / Sporting Goods
8. Hobbies / Toys / Collectibles
9. Furniture
10. Home Appliances


Highlights of the Report:

  • 25-percent increase in scams reported over 2019.
  • 28.1-percent drop in the reported median dollar loss, from $160 in 2019 to $115 in 2020.
  • Riskiest scam was Online Purchase, up from number 3 last year.
  • For the first time, adults ages 18-24 reported the highest median losses ($150) — the same as adults 65 and older.
  • Amazon has become the second-most impersonated brand by scammers.


Previously, older age groups consistently lost higher median dollar amounts to scammers year over year, even while young adults tended to lose money more often. This year, the financial loss reported by those 18-24 was equal to that of adults 65 and older. Online scams rise during COVID-19 pandemic: 2020 BBB Scam Tracker Risk Report (, focuses on the impact of scams in the wake of the pandemic and the demographic groups most at risk.

More scams were perpetrated online and yielded the highest likelihood of financial loss in 2020. This is likely connected to consumer habit shifts since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. In a survey of more than 5,000 individuals who reported scams to BBB Scam Tracker in 2020, 43.1% said they spent more time online because of the pandemic, and 57.1% said they purchased more online because of the pandemic.

The risk of financial loss also rose significantly in 2020. Nearly one of every two reports to BBB Scam Tracker (46.7%) noted a financial loss, with two-thirds of reports (64.7%) resulting in financial loss being online purchase scams, which was the top riskiest scam in 2020. Online purchase scams were the most common scam reported to BBB, comprising 38.3% of all scam reports. Pet and PPE-related online purchase scams spiked during the pandemic.

Another way some scammers took advantage of younger adults was by using a payment method less familiar to younger generations: checks. Fake check scams were the second most risky scam for adults ages 18-24 in a year where payment via online payment systems rose across all age groups. Fake check scams yielded one of the highest median dollar losses per encounter at $1,679 in 2020.


Go to to report a scam, learn more about other risky scams on and visit the BBB’s scam news feed. 


(Better Business Bureau)