In FocusReport: Life Stress Can Lead to Fraud Susceptibility

Report: Life Stress Can Lead to Fraud Susceptibility

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Scammers have upped their game during the pandemic. New research looks into who is most susceptible to falling victim to fraud.

AARP conducted a survey in July for its report “A Moment’s Notice.” Doug Shadel, state director of AARP Washington, said studies haven’t been able to find a common trait, such as age, that makes people vulnerable to fraud.

But this new study shows people experiencing stressful life events were twice as likely to be scammed, compared with those who are not. Shadel said at the time victims encountered fraud, they say they were more likely to feel out of control.

“This too supported the hypothesis that what may make us vulnerable is less about how much education we have or where we live or whether you’re an extrovert or introvert,” said Shadel. “And it’s more about what’s going on in your world at the time that you encounter these things.”

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Shadel said fraud reports to the Federal Trade Commission have gone up 45% during the pandemic.

Shadel said messaging around the role people’s emotional state can play in scam susceptibility will become part of AARP’s messaging as they fight fraud nationally.

“If you find yourself in a mode where you’re not yourself for whatever reason,” said Shadel, “you’re taking care of a loved one, you just got divorced, you’re experiencing loneliness – be extra vigilant about how you answer the phone, how you respond to offers in the marketplace.”

Shadel said victims also reported having fewer family and social support networks, making them more vulnerable to fraud.

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