New Study: Overconfident Consumers Could Be More Vulnerable to Online Scams

A new survey shows a discrepancy between consumers’ confidence in detecting fraud and their online behavior, a disconnect that could put them at risk. The new research from digital payments giant Visa highlights the cost of overconfidence and the importance of staying vigilant against online fraud.

According to the study, 56 percent of the respondents consider themselves highly knowledgeable when it comes to recognizing online scams or fraud. Paradoxically, this confidence may make them even more vulnerable, as false confidence can lead them to click on malicious links. 

Of the 56 percent who consider themselves knowledgeable, 92 percent admit they would respond to at least one type of online offer. In contrast, fewer people (88 percent) would respond to potential scams out of the group who admitted to being less knowledgeable.

The research found that those who claim to be most knowledgeable are more likely to respond to the following potentially harmful communications:

  • Messages about a security risk
  • Giveaways or freebies
  • A notice from the government or police

Some of the survey’s key findings point to a knowledge gap, as false confidence can lead people to respond to scam offers or click on fraudulent links.

The study also raises concerns about the vulnerability of others as consumers feel confident in their own abilities and vigilance. Over half of the respondents were concerned about friends and family who could fall for scams. Meanwhile, over a third said they were worried about children and older people who could be vulnerable to online fraud.

Visa warns consumers that fraudulent actors try different approaches to come up with messages that appear genuine. This way, they can compel more recipients to take immediate action.

Persuasive language and sophisticated notifications are critical drivers of fraud. The company warned consumers to be vigilant of phrases including “urgent,” “act now,” or “request for password verification.” 

Aside from being vigilant of emails, consumers must also keep in mind the following practices:

  • Understand the language scammers use
  • Check purchase alerts regularly
  • Keep personal account data to themselves
  • Do not click on links before verifying that they will lead to the promised site
  • Verify the legitimacy of an email by calling the number on the back of credit or debit cards or corporate websites

While advancements in payment security are deterring malicious actors, consumers must remember that technology can only do so much. 

Today, people can complete various financial transactions online, including paying debts, applying for credit card consolidation loans, and opening bank accounts. Therefore, consumers must serve as the critical first line of defense against fraud and preserve the human quality of questioning everything, even as digital-first habits continue to evolve. 

Visa released the new study to support its Stay Secure Campaign, which focused on strengthening education, raising consumer awareness, and establishing confidence to fight social engineering threats.

Survey participants were from 17 countries from the Middle East, Africa, and Europe. The global payments giant conducted the study through email and online surveys between March 31 and April 10, 2023.

Through the Stay Secure Campaign, Visa aims to pave the way for a seamless and secure digital payment experience for customers. As part of this effort, the company provides educational content, including infographics, videos, and tips to equip consumers with the crucial skills and knowledge to combat fraud.