A Report on the 1993 Survey of Older Consumer Behavior

Authors: Princeton Survey Research Associates, for AARP

Year: 1994

Focus Area: Profile

Relevance: This report provides survey results and analysis about older consumers, including susceptibility to fraud.

Summary: Compared to younger consumers, older people know less about consumers’ rights, find consumer resources unhelpful, and are less likely to seek assistance if they feel they have been defrauded or taken advantage of. Older consumers feel that there is less fraud and fewer unfair business practices than do younger consumers.

  • 58% of older (65+) consumers said they had a “bad buying experience” in the past year. 27% said they had never had such an experience and 9% of older people reported having been defrauded at any point in their lives.
  • 20% of older people said that they had never taken action on any of the ten consumer complaint options described in the survey, even if they had experienced a bad buying experience.
  • Among older people, the most common types of consumer deception experienced were defective products (29%) and repair bills that were higher than the estimates (20%).

Abstract (from the authors): Consumer fraud, deception, and abuse, costing consumers an estimated $100 billion a year, touch the vast majority of older and younger Americans. Three-quarters of all consumers claim that in at least one buying experience during the past year, they were deceived, defrauded, or exploited. The most common complaints were: products that didn’t work, late deliveries, false or misleading claims, and bills for repairs far exceeding written estimates. In addition, one consumer in seven reports being a victim of a major fraud at some point in their lifetime.

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