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Consumer Fraud Issues: Survey of AARP Members Age 50+ in West Virginia

AARP Member Opinion Research

The AARP Foundation and West Virginia State Office of AARP engaged in a survey of AARP members 50 and older in West Virginia to gauge their experience with and opinions on consumer fraud issues and to attempt to capture a broad sense of vulnerability to fraud. West Virginians are most concerned about companies selling products over the phone, followed by credit card and pharmaceutical companies with at least half of all members. While many members may not have experienced certain fraud crimes or incidents, many are concerned about becoming victims of identity theft, securities fraud, and home repair.

Key Findings:

Of those members in West Virginia who access the Internet, most have installed anti-virus (78%), anti-spyware (64%), a firewall (51%), reset email passwords (56%), and set up email filters (40%). Yet, at least one-quarter have experienced problems with SPAM (59%), Phishing email (29%), viruses or worms (29%), and spyware (28%) in the 12 months prior to this survey.

Few members in West Virginia (10%) report personally experiencing identity theft in the past five years, yet most (81%) are concerned about being a victim of this crime, with half saying they are very (27%) or extremely (25%) concerned. 

Nearly one-third of all members (30%) report being billed for or paying too much for a product or service they did not agree to purchase. Yet, only one-third (35%) say they have contacted a national credit bureau for a copy of their personal credit report and far fewer (10%) say they have heard of Security Freeze. Only two percent of all members say they have a Security Freeze placed on their credit files.

Three quarters (76%) of all AARP members in West Virginia have invested in either stocks, bonds, mutual funds, hedge funds, or a 401k through an employer, but few say they feel very or extremely knowledgeable about financial investing. Of those members who have ever hired a financial advisor or similar professional (36%), half have not checked the professional’s background to see if they were registered or licensed.

In December 2009, AARP commissioned Alan Newman Research to conduct this survey among AARP members ages 50 and older in the state of West Virginia. A total of 1,003 interviews were completed. For more information, contact Jennifer H. Sauer at 202-434-6207. (31 pages)