Incidents of fraud have exploded in recent years, with 2.4 million fraud reports and nearly $9 billion reported stolen in 2022. And that’s likely a small fraction of the total, since experts believe that the vast majority of fraud goes unreported.
Scams — and seemingly constant scam attempts by phone, email and text — have grown so pervasive, two-thirds of Americans say they’re at a crisis level.
That’s based on a quiz of 1,000 U.S. adults, meant to assess their level of knowledge and awareness of various kinds of scams and fraud, summarized in a new AARP report, “Consumer Fraud Awareness Gets D Grade.” Adults 50 and older are more likely to agree that scams are at a crisis level, with 81 percent concurring, compared to 56 percent of respondents ages 18 to 49.
The questions also touched on the different ways that scammers request payment from their victims.
About one-quarter of those surveyed said they didn’t know that it’s always a scam when you are asked to make a payment or send money by purchasing a gift card and sharing the number on the back of the card. Gift cards are a hugely popular way for criminals to receive cash; $228 million of the money lost to scams last year was in the form of gift cards, according to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
And while most people (79 percent) are aware that it can be risky to purchase products and services in response to social media ads, 15 percent said they weren’t sure, and 6 percent believed that it was “always safe” to do so. Social media was the most profitable contact method to scammers in 2022, the FTC reports.