AARP Joins the Anti-Fraud Fray
In the struggle to protect people's private information from criminals, one of the nation's largest associations is looking to make headway with new resources.
Americans age 50 and older have a new tool in the fight against fraud, with AARP launching its new Fraud Watch Network. The interactive guide offers a breakdown of anti-fraud resources and news on a state-by-state basis.
AARP has taken a keen interest in fraud and identity theft due to to the increasing risk to older Americans, whose economic reserves and relative unfamiliarity with the internet make them favored targets by cybercriminals, according to the Federal Trade Commission. The network puts AARP at the forefront of associations looking to combat online fraud, an issue that many other groups are working to raise awareness about.
After hiring the GfK Group to poll more than 11,000 adults age 18 and older in the U.S., the association recently identified 15 behaviors that can lead to some form of fraud. The study found that nearly one in five people surveyed had engaged in at least seven of those acts during the previous week.
“Additionally, [fraud] victims scored higher on several indicators of acting impulsively and admitted to posting more personal information online, such as birth dates, marital status, names of children, and even Social Security numbers, that could be used for identity theft,” wrote AARP blogger Sid Kirchheimer.
Among the behaviors identified by AARP as being potentially dangerous:
- Opening email from unknown sources
- Downloading apps
- Selling items on online auction sites
- Signing up for “free trial” offers
The poll also identified many of the effects of fraud, such as victims feeling a greater sense of isolation, more negative life events like job losses or injury, and concerns about debt.
But the line between victims and non-victims was less clear when participants were given a 10-question test on internet safety topics, including the specifics of bank emails and privacy policies. Victims averaged five correct answers, but non-victims scored just half a point higher.
AARP’s full report, “Caught in the Scammer’s Net: Risk Factors That May Lead to Becoming an Internet Fraud Victim,” is available on the association’s website [PDF].