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American consumers are falling victim to scams more than they realize and the situation is getting worse.

spinner image Senior Couple Reviewing Finances, Shocked by Fraud

As for known incidents alone, the 2.4 million reported cases of scams and other forms of fraud in 2022 cost consumers $8.8 million. That is an increase of 30% over the previous year, according to the Federal Trade Commission. Yet, with so much underreporting, it's hard to know the true extent of the impact.

To better understand the dynamics at play, AARP examined the behavior of fraud victims in a national study. The results indicate that 20 million Americans may not be aware that they were victims of a scam.

Following up on a 2021 fraud report, AARP recontacted 890 respondents who disclosed spending money in common marketplace scenarios that were actually fraudulent, although the situations were not labeled as such. When asked about the incidents, AARP discovered most victims (81%) said they did not lose money to a scam during the period of inquiry in direct contradiction to their experience.

The survey examined victim reporting versus nonreporting in relation to scam type. Top scams regardless of whether people reported or not were related to charity, notario, and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Among those who reported victimization, jury duty and weight loss scams were also in the top five, while among those who did not report victimization, pain relief and romance scams rounded out the top five.

The survey found consumers ages 18–49 were more apt to report their financial loss from a scam than those ages 50-plus. Most respondents upon recontact, especially older consumers, did not disclose their victimization. AARP researchers speculate that people who didn't report were either not aware that the scenarios were scams, had forgotten about the episode, or were too embarrassed to admit they'd lost money, particularly given the societal tendency to blame victims.

To better protect yourself from scams, experts suggest looking for red flags such as pressure to act right away, promise of unrealistic guarantees, requirement of an upfront payment, requests for sensitive information, and unsolicited emails or texts. If you have questions about an offer that sounds too good to be true, call the AARP Fraud Watch Network Helpline at 877-908-3360.


This report was based on information from an AARP a survey of 890 fraud victims in late April and early May 2022. The national sample was weighted by age, gender, and race.

For more information, please contact Alicia Williams at For media inquiries, please contact External Relations at