When it comes to fraud, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs) 50 and older are paying the price in both wealth and health, according to a survey released today by AARP.
Seventy-two percent said that they or their family members have been the target of a fraud scheme, and 39 percent have been victims. While not all of those who fell victim to fraud suffered financial losses, roughly 13 percent of survey respondents said they lost money, with the average loss being just over $15,000.
The scams also hurt the emotional, mental or physical health of 72 percent of the fraud victims, causing them to experience anger, stress and anxiety, difficulty sleeping or shame.
The survey, conducted last October and November, involved 1,120 telephone interviews in English, Mandarin, Cantonese, Tagalog, Vietnamese and Korean.
In a report about the survey, AARP noted: “The risks of fraud and its associated costs are even greater for AAPIs 50-plus with limited English proficiency.” The organization emphasized the importance of providing information in the primary languages of the consumers.
“Everyone in the AAPI community is at risk for fraud,” said Daphne Kwok, AARP Vice President of Multicultural Leadership, Asian American and Pacific Islander Audience Strategy. “This survey underscores the need to raise awareness around fraud and scams in order to protect against financial and nonfinancial loss.”
The survey showed a damaging disconnect between the respondents’ perceived and actual ability to detect scams. While 73 percent of respondents said they could see through a fraudulent offer, 71 percent could not give the right answer to four or more questions in a six-question quiz of basic fraud knowledge.
Among the most common frauds Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders reported exposure to were: foreign lottery scams (36 percent), crisis-related donations to charities (33 percent), scammers offering virus removal (32 percent), IRS impostors seeking “back taxes” (24 percent), and verification of financial information (20 percent).
In light of the severe emotional impact the report found, AARP suggests that fraud victims:
- Immediately report to authorities any financial losses due to a scammer.
- Recognize there are others in similar situations.
- Take action by educating family, friends and others about fraud.
- Reach out for professional help if the feelings of shame, embarrassment or anger continue.