This one thing could make you more susceptible to scams 37



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In the first six months of this year, Australians lost $45 million to scammers, with a further 45,000 complaints made about fraudsters trying one way or another to steal people’s money.

But why do some people get targeted more than others? And why do others fall for what appears to be a blatant scam?

The answer could be a person’s disposition.

A University of New South Wales study has found that happy, optimistic people are more likely to fall prey to fraud.

“Based on past research on interpersonal communication and recent work on affect and social cognition, we predicted and found that negative mood increased and positive mood decreased people’s skepticism and their ability to detect deception,” the study authors write.

After inducing certain moods in their subjects then submitting them to a interviews with people denying they had committed a theft, the researchers found negative mood increased a person’s skepticism and improved their accuracy in detecting deceptive communications, while the people in a positive mood were more trusting and gullible.

However, Angela Bradley from the Mood and Mind Centre in Queensland says this is only part of the story. She told The Age that negative people notice more negative things, because they are already “scanning for them”.

And while disposition may be one determinant of your risk for being scammed, unfortunately, age is another. Neuroscientist Erik Asp has identified the part of your brain that dictates your capacity for scepticism: the ventromedial area of the prefrontal cortex, just above the eyes.

This is the part of your brain that assesses whether new information is true or not and, unfortunately, degenerates as we age.

That doesn’t mean we all need to be gullible, of course. With age comes wisdom and with wisdom comes a healthy dose of scepticism. And for Starts at 60 readers especially, being savvy to scammers tricks is the best defence there is.

Would you say you are a gullible or sceptical person? Do you know anyone who has been scammed? Does this theory hold up against their personality?


Starts at 60 Writers

The Starts at 60 writers team seek out interesting topics and write them especially for you.

  1. No I am very wary of something that is too good to be true, just look at the page if you think it is a scam on facebook..normally it has no other posts very few likes and just opened account in last 2weeks or so. also it is a community page

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    • It was my grandmothers and my mums era, that were the most trusting they believed that their bankmanager,accountant, Lawyers, doctors and retailers were up on a pedestool and their word was gospel.

  2. Scammers see older people as vulnerable. Older people can also protect themselves, whether negatively oriented or not, by educating their minds to think before accepting. Social media is in fact a help with this. The more interaction with others, and the more discussion on an intellectual level, the less people are likely to fall for scams. I suspect also, that the tendency to hope for money for nothing, to play the pokies, to gamble, will encourage belief in scams.

  3. I’m very sceptical and I seek out signs which can expose scammers such as the web address, and of course anyone asking you to pay them money, or for your bank account details, however there are a lot of people who just don’t get it that you never get anything for nothing in life you have to earn it, many of these people are desperate or just plain greedy.

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  4. If we all remember the saying, “If it looks too good to be true, then it is too good to be true” then that will be a start to avoiding scams. If you are 70 and believe that somebody who is allegedly a 20 year old is desperately in love with you or if you believe that an alleged relative about whom you have never heard has left you a fortune and that all you need to do is provide your bank account details to get it, then you are asking for trouble.

  5. There is usually some thing in a scam that alerts you. I almost fell into one but as soon as they asked for money I investigated and checked ScamWatch and sure enough it was among those listed. It also involved a pretty good PayPal imitation so I reported it to them. Only yesterday I was advised by email that I’d won £2,000,000 in a lottery I never entered.

  6. A few simple rules. 1.Never believe anything stated in an unsolicited phone call, email or pamphlet. Hang up, delete or bin it. 2.Never give out personal banking information to anyone but a bank officer face to face. 3. If it sounds too good to be true, it is.

  7. I would have thought that lonely people would have been more susceptible. I get at least 1 friend request a week on facebook from people I have never heard of. I always go to their page because I am curious and it is always a new page. I suspect they are what I call romance scammers. Become your friend on facebook then romance you then fleece you of everything you have. I deny friend request and mark them as spam.

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    • Debbie you can setup Facebook security so no one can see what’s on your Facebook timeline and who you get friend requests from, although you possibly already know this it’s always worth mentioning as I know many people who had no idea they could do it.

    • My security is tight as Willow set it up for me. I will have to ask her about filtering friend requests. As I said amazed by the scammers out there. On this subject Willow is on Linkedin. It is a form of facebook for professional people. Anyway someone hacked her account and put a photo of an erect penis on it. Luckily her father went to her account and saw it. The people in charge of Linkedin acted very quickly and took it down. My detective of a husband who is very computer savvy tracked down this guy electronically and reported him to the police. Silly guy did not even try to cover his tracks electronically.

  8. My opinion of course. It us persons who are not ‘computer literate today’ who fall prey to scams. Understanding how the brains of scammers work and punch lines. Ie: “Your computer has a virus. (Telephone call) – gullibly you open your computer while on the phone. – They are IN!
    Just one of the things.
    The other; and I cannot for the life of me understand. Women who fall prey to dating scammers.
    When these low lives ask fir money should be a HUGE WAKE UP CALL.

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    • Loneliness and neediness probably blinds people to the scam. It is probably easier to take the risk of being conned than to admit one is not truly wanted by the person. Sad but true.

  9. What I would like to know is how the scammers get your name and phone number, I have an up to date listing on the do not call register and I have a private number that, other than family, only a handful of people know, yet I am constantly bombarded with calls from scammers. I was threatened last week by a caller who has been trying to get me to install solar panels which is of no use where I live. I have a lot of large trees and cannot cut then down as I am on a koala run. I asked him to stop calling me and he said (nastily) he would keep calling until I agreed to install the panels. Now unless I see the callers number I let the call go the message bank. I am beginning to think Telstra may be selling numbers

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