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Online Fraud: Are You Next?

Online fraudThe difference between computer users who get scammed and those who don’t often comes down to a simple checklist: In just-released research, AARP identifies 15 particular behaviors, life situations and knowledge attributes that significantly increase vulnerability to online fraud.

The kicker: Nearly 1 in 5 American adults – roughly 34 million people – engage in at least seven of them.

These eye-opening findings are pooled from detailed surveys of more than 11,000 adults across the U.S., comparing the online actions, behaviors and life experiences of fraud victims and non-victims – and providing a detailed “profile” of those who are most vulnerable to Internet-based scams.

In future blogs, we’ll delve deeper into how, where, when and why the dangers of online fraud lurk in the “Fraud-Likely 15.” (You can also keep tabs on other scams here and with free email alerts.) But for now, a snapshot of some key findings from this important AARP report,“Caught in the Scammer’s Net”:


In the past seven days before being surveyed, respondents admitted to:


Additionally, 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. They were also more likely to visit Web sites that required them to read privacy and terms of agreement statements – significant because those sites often require providing personal information.

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Life Experiences

Confirming previous research, the AARP report found that feeling vulnerable increases fraud vulnerability. So be extra careful when making decisions online (or in person). And take note, friends and family members, if loved ones are experiencing any of the following:


Other factors that increase vulnerability risk: stress about moving, personal or family illness, the death of a loved one, relationship issues and going through a divorce (which tripled the risk). Previous research shows that those 65 and older are most vulnerable to any type of scam within three years of such traumatic events.


When asked several questions about Internet safety, neither victims nor non-victims scored particularly well. But on two specific issues, victims were significantly less likely to answer correctly than non-victims:


Photo: Don Hankins/Flickr

For information about other scams, sign up for the Fraud Watch Network. You’ll receive free email alerts with tips and resources to help you spot and avoid identity theft and fraud. And you’ll gain access to a network of experts, law enforcement and people in your community who will keep you up to date on the latest scams in your area.

AARP Fraud Watch Network






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Also of Interest


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