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Caught In The Scammer’s Net: Risk Factors That May Lead to Becoming an Internet Fraud Victim

AARP Survey of American Adults Age 18 and Older

The present study surveyed some 11,741 individuals age 18 and older nationally and in 12 state oversamples.  The survey sought to answer the following questions:

  1. Are there behaviors and life experiences that may increase a person’s risk of becoming a victim of online fraud?
  2. What proportion of individuals nationally, and in particular target states may be at risk of being victimized by online fraud?
  3. How concerned are Americans about online fraud and what if any steps are they taking to protect themselves?

Data from this national and multi-state survey of over 11,000 online users also shows that Americans are very concerned about online fraud, yet many avoid taking basic precautions to protect themselves.  Key findings include:

  • Nearly one in five Americans (19%) who use the internet, or as many as 34.1 million people, engage in at least 7 of the 15 behaviors or experience life events that may put them at increased risk of being victimized by online fraud.  
  • Two-thirds of Americans (65%) who use the Internet, or as many as 116 million, people received at least one online scam offer in 2013.
  • Nearly eight in ten (79%) Americans who use the Internet are concerned about being scammed on the Internet.

The GfK Group (GfK, formerly Knowledge Networks) fielded this survey on behalf of AARP.  This Internet-based survey was conducted using sample from GfK’s KnowledgePanel® as well as a supplement panel for some state-specific targets. A total of 11,741 surveys were completed from November 23, 2013 through December 30, 2013. While 8,150 were from KnowledgePanel® (KP), 3,591 were from an off-panel sample to supplement the state oversamples to ensure a minimum of at least 800 completions per state with the exception of South Dakota.  The KnowledgePanel® completed 1,539 national sample surveys.   For more information, contact Jennifer Sauer at