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Consumer Fraud in America: The Black Experience

The proliferation of financial fraud in the form of scams is undeniable. Federal data show the highest ever year-over-year rise in fraud reports between 2019 and 2020, and we know that scams are severely under-reported.  We also know that when consumers are aware of specific scams, they are far less likely to engage with them, and far less likely still to lose money or sensitive information.

AARP fielded a survey to gain insights into the knowledge of and experience with scams among Latino and Black adults in the United States. We uncovered the scams these audiences are most aware of, and those they have the most experience with. These findings will guide future education and outreach strategies to address gaps in scam awareness and prevention strategies to reduce the likelihood of scam victimization.

Key Findings

  • Black adults most often encounter the government imposter, lottery and work-from-home scams. For both fake job postings and romance scams, Black adults far outrank white and other racial groups but are on par with Latino adults. Black and White (and other racial groups) adults rank being targeted by immigration scams the lowest. 
  • Black adults under age 30 are most likely to report being targeted by a scam. For example, nearly 1 in 5 between the ages of 18 and 29 report being targeted by a green, government impostor or mortgage scam.
  • Exposure to scams (being targeted and/or a victim) among Black adults was on par with other racial groups, with about one-quarter reporting being a target of two or more scams.  A similar trend exists among those who report being a victim of a scam, which represents about 1 in 5 adults within each racial group. 
  • A troubling trend across all racial groups is that more than half of those who have been victimized were a victim more than once. 


​AARP commissioned Precision Market Research, Latino Decisions, and the African American Research Collaborative to conduct this survey among 2,808 U.S. adults ages 18+ with a focus on Latino and Black adults. The survey was fielded in the fall of 2020 and the final sample of 1,128 African American/Black adults yielded a margin of error of +/- 3.1 percent.  AARP also commissioned BVA BDRC — Americas to weight, analyze and prepare the final report. 

For information on the survey and methodology, please contact Jen Sauer at or Angela Houghton at For media inquiries, please contact Emily James, AARP External Relations, at


Suggested citation:

Petrie, Matthew. Consumer Fraud in America: The Black Experience. Washington, DC: AARP Research, August 2021.

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