Consumer Fraud: A 2008 Survey of AARP Colorado Members’ Experiences and Opinions

Authors: Cassandra Burton

Publication: AARP

Year: 2008

Focus Area: Fraud Surveys, Impact of Fraud

Relevance: Assessing the extent of fraud in different areas contributes to a clearer overall picture of the impact of fraud.

Summary: This mail-in survey of AARP Colorado members yielded 890 useable responses, and suggests relatively few incidents of investment fraud, but with high losses.

6.4% of Colorado residents age 50+ indicate being victims of investment fraud (p. 4). The breakdown of money lost as a result of the fraudulent investment is as follows:

$0-$9,999 (22%)

$10k-$49,999 (16%)

$50k-$99,999 (5%)

$100k+ (10%)

No answer (47%)

Additionally, one in three respondents reported receiving regular email scams, phishing emails, and spyware on their computers (p. 1).

AARP Colorado members are concerned about the possibility of being defrauded and many have made attempts to protect themselves. Among internet users, most have installed protective software or filters to protect their email addresses. Members have also contacted one of the three national credit bureaus to order a credit report (53%), signed up for fraud alerts (14%), and purchased a credit card with monitoring services (11%) (p. 8).

Author Abstract: While consumer fraud is not a new crime, in the United States it continues to be one of the most prevalent white collar crimes.  Close to 25 million adults in the United States were victims of fraud in 2005, and the most frequently reported types of fraud include advance-fee loan scams, buyers clubs, credit card insurance, and credit repair.  Still, between one and two million people were victims of prize promotion scams, Internet service fraud, and pyramid schemes.  In Colorado alone, 11,364 consumer fraud complaints were reported to the Federal Trade Commission in 2007.  Over $41.5 million was paid out by Colorado consumers to a business or individual offering a product or service.  This report describes the findings from a state wide survey of AARP members residing in Colorado.  The survey gauged member experience and opinion regarding various forms of consumer fraud including Internet scams, securities and investment fraud, and home repair and financing.

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