Fact Sheet: Avoiding Consumer Fraud

“You’ve won a free trip! This opportunity won’t last so act now!” Sound familiar? These are typical ploys used on unsuspecting consumers in an effort to steal their money. Each year Americans lose 100 billion dollars to consumer fraud and more than 30% involve victims over age 65. Con artists are always developing new telephone and door-to-door scams. Fraudulent scams are also solicited through the mail, internet, television, magazine or newspaper advertisements.

Why do con artists target older adults?

What are some common methods of fraud?

Don’t be scammed!

AARP research has shown that many older fraud victims are intelligent people who are lured by false promises of great deals or by ways to add to their “nest egg.”

Scam artists target seniors relentlessly, sometimes with 20 telemarketing calls a day and a dozen sweepstakes mailings every week. They take advantage of the fact that it can be difficult for consumers to tell if a salesperson or scam is legitimate and that they want to believe it is true– who wouldn’t want to win a million dollar lottery?

Identity Theft

The Federal Trade Commission estimates as many as 9 million Americans are victims of identity theft each year. The loss to business is estimated at $50 billion/year. Consumers spend countless hours and money to rectify the damage done to their good name and credit.

Identity theft occurs when a thief obtains personal and/or financial information about you and then uses it without your knowledge to commit fraud or other crimes This information can include your name, social security or credit card number and is stolen by skimming your credit card, online phishing or simply stealing your purse, wallet or mail. Unfortunately, more than 50% of victims did not know their identity had been stolen until the damage had already been done.

If you are a victim, file a police report, contact creditors, dispute charges, request a fraud alert from the credit agencies and file a complaint with the FTC.

Consumer Fraud Resources