Approximately one in 10 U.S. adults are victims of fraud every year and South Texas is no stranger to victims of scams. In 2018, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) received over 372,000 fraud complaints. With fraud being such a common issue, it becomes easy to wonder, “What separates victims from non-victims?” There isn’t a superior kind of person that is immune to scams, and even those who consider themselves savvy can find themselves a victim if they aren’t careful and informed.
Better Business Bureau partnered with FINRA’s Investor Education Foundation to survey more than 1,000 American and Canadian consumers who had previously been targeted by scammers. Their answers, highlighted in a reported released in early October, gave more insight into what leads to a consumer being defrauded. For example, of those surveyed, nearly a quarter engaged with the scammer who was targeting them. And of the consumers who engaged, the average amount of money lost was $600.
The key findings of the study shine light not only on ways individuals may be more vulnerable, but the precautions they can take to protect themselves as well:
- Social media. Consumers were far more likely to engage with scammers if they were reached via social media, rather than phone or email. It showed that 91% of the consumers reached through social media engaged, and 53% ended up losing money.
- Social isolation. People who didn’t have people in their lives to discuss fraudulent offers with were far more likely to become victims. Scam victims were more likely to be unmarried, widowed or divorced. They also reported much higher feelings of loneliness.
- Financial literacy. Victimization was more likely to occur to someone who was under financial strain, young adults or someone with low financial literacy.
- Last line of defense. The study found that51% of people reported a third party (such as a cashier, bank teller or employees of wire transfer services) intervening helped them avoid losing money.
- Scam knowledge. Almost half of people surveyed said the news was their biggest source of information about scams, and word of mouth was second most common. People with more knowledge and understanding of scams are more likely to avoid them.
To learn more and educate yourself on the latest scams, visit us at bbb.org, or go to bbb.org/ExposedtoScams to read the full report.