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BBB: Separating scam victims from non-victims

Posted at 9:11 AM, Oct 08, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-08 13:41:25-04

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — “It could NEVER happen to me!”

Those are often the famous last words of someone who is about to fall victim to a scam.

Recently, the Better Business Bureau partnered with the FINRA Investor Education Foundation and the Stanford Center on Longevity to conduct a study of who is most likely to be scammed, and the results may hit close to home for many of us.

Exposed to Scams: What Separates Vctims From Non-Victims surveyed more than 1,000 American and Canadian consumers who had previously been targeted by scammers and had reported it to BBB Scam Tracker. According to the survey, nearly a quarter of those consumers actually engaged with the scammer targeting them. Once that happened, the average amount of money lost to fraud was $600.

Some of the key findings from the study include:

  • Consumers were far more likely to engage with scammers if they were reached via social media, rather than phone or email. 91% of the consumers that were reached through social media engaged, and 53% ended up losing money.
  • People who lived in social isolation and who did not 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.
  • Victimization was more likely to occur to someone who was under financial strain, young adults or someone with low financial literacy.
  • 51% of people reported a third party (such as cashier, bank teller or employees of wire transfer services) intervening as a last line of defense to help keep them from losing money.
  • 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 scam knowledge are more likely to successfully avoid becoming a victim.

Want to learn more? Go to bbb.org/ExposedToScams to read the full report.