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Preparing for the Holidays? So Are Criminals

2022 Holiday Shopping and Scams Survey of U.S. Consumers Age 18-Plus

A new AARP Fraud Watch NetworkTM report highlights the ways criminals may target U.S. consumers this year and underscores the importance of knowing how to spot a scam during the holiday season.

A majority of consumers have experienced or been targeted by at least one form of fraud that can be tied to the holidays, including end-of-year charitable donation requests, purchasing an item through an online ad, and receiving fake notifications about shipping issues.

The survey also shares insights into awareness of safe shopping practices, including among  African American/Black, Hispanic/Latino, and Asian American & Pacific Islander consumers.

Key Findings

  • Most consumers age 18 and older are wrong or unsure about certain safe shopping practices – only 22% of all survey respondents were able to correctly answer seven or more true/false questions. 
    • 41% incorrectly believe (or are unsure) that ads for merchandise on social media online are trustworthy.
    • 63% incorrectly believe (or are unsure) that online retailers like Amazon and eBay will request your login information to provide customer support.
    • 53% incorrectly believe (or are unsure) that peer-to-peer payment apps like Cash App, Zelle, or Venmo have the same consumer protections as your credit card.
  • The majority (76%) of U.S. consumers have experienced some type of fraud and younger consumers experienced fraud more often than older age groups: 18–34 (81%), 35–44 (71%), 45–64 (78%), and age 65-plus (69%). Some of these experiences include:
    • Experienced fraud when buying a product through an online ad (35%).
    • Received a fake notification about a shipment issue (29%).
    • Had a package stolen from outside their door (27%).
    • Been given or received a gift card with no funds on it (26%).
  • Nearly all (94%) U.S. consumers 18-plus agree that lawmakers need to do more to protect the public from fraud and scams, with almost two-thirds (64%) saying they strongly agree.  

Methodology

AARP engaged ANR Market Research Consultants to conduct a quantitative research study among U.S. consumers age 18+. ANR completed a total of 2,012 telephone interviews (419 via landline telephones, 1,023 via cell phone, and 570 online). Respondents were screened for age, residency, internet use, and shopping behavior during the months of November through January. The survey was launched on August 25, 2022 and closed on September 14, 2022. All data were weighted by age, gender, census division, and race/ethnicity according to 2019 Census Bureau National ACS statistics. Percentages of some questions in the annotation may exceed 100% due to rounding or the use of multiple response question formats.

For more information, please contact Jennifer Sauer at jsauer@aarp.org. For media inquiries, please contact External Relations at media@aarp.org.

Suggested citation:

Sauer, Jennifer. 2022 Holiday Shopping and Scams Survey of U.S. Consumers Age 18+. Washington, DC: AARP Research, November 2022. https://doi.org/10.26419/res.00582.001

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