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AARP Foundation National Fraud Victim Study

The AARP Foundation recently commissioned a nationwide survey to examine the demographic and behavioral differences between victims of various types of consumer fraud and the general population.  Respondents rated their interest in persuasion tactics, indicated their exposure to sales situations and prevention actions they take to protect themselves from fraud, answered questions about consumer protection laws, major life events they have experienced, feelings about gaining and losing money and their experiences with fraud.  In addition, all respondents answered a standard set of demographic questions.

The survey findings indicate that overall, victims are more interested in persuasion tactics, expose themselves to more sales situations and are less likely to take prevention actions to protect themselves than the general population.

  • Nearly two-thirds of victims 50+ (65%) report exposing themselves to two or more sales situations, compared to just over half (52%) of the general population.  Victims were more likely to report attending sales presentations when offered a free meal or hotel stay in return; to enter their name in drawings to win a prize; to allow sales people into their home to make a presentation and to open and read every piece of mail they receive.
  • Victims 50+ are more interested in 6 of the 10 persuasion tactics than the general population.  Victims were more interested in an investment that promised a guaranteed return, an opportunity to apply for a federal grant assistance, cutting their mortgage, a free CD to save money, a necklace at a reduced price for a limited time, and new technology than the general population.
  • Victims 50+ were less likely than the general population to report taking prevention measures such as signing up for the Do Not Call List or checking the references of businesses before hiring them.
  • Investment fraud victims and lottery fraud victims were found to have divergent demographic profiles.  Investment victims were more likely than the general population to be male, married, have some college education or more and to make $50,000 or more.  Lottery victims were more likely than the general population to be single, have less than a college education and are less likely to make $50,000 or more.

The study was conducted for AARP via telephone by Woelfel Research, Inc.  The interviews were conducted between May 7 and August 2, 2010  with a total of 2,232 interviews, including 1,509 from the general population and 723 victims.  For additional information contact Karla Pak at kpak@aarp.org.

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