IDAHO FALLS — Can you imagine losing hundreds of dollars to a scammer, trusting someone and being totally deceived?
For most that would be a blow financially and emotionally, causing questions of how this could have happened. A new fraud study published by the Better Business Bureau shows certain characteristics that may put you more at risk for falling for a con.
Research shows people who live alone or have low financial literacy levels are more likely to lose money to scammers. As they are more willing to engage with con artists, turning themselves into victims. This often happens by communicating online and on social media.
During this study, researchers talked to 1,000 Americans and Canadians who were targeted by scammers and reported fraud to the Better Business Bureau. With 250 of these people, losing an average of $600. What was found was when phone and email were used by scammers to target people, very few fell for the scam. However, when conned on social media, 91 percent engaged and 53 percent lost money.
Consumers are more likely to be victimized if they do not have anyone to discuss the situation with. Those who are not married, widowed or divorced are often more likely to be scammed. And being scammed can compound the loneliness and socially isolation of these people, because they are embarrassed they fell for it.
Looking at those who unfortunately are deceived the BBB found they often are under a financial strain, are younger adults, or don’t have a good understanding of finances. Where we did find some good news is 51 percent of people who reported a third-party intervention were able to avoid losing money. For example, cashiers, bank tellers, and employees of wire transfer services where consumers were about to send money to a scammers often served as an important last line of defense.
The study also showed that the news media is a major way people learn about scams. Also, word of mouth was the next best form of protection and awareness. When you have been warned you can help yourself and others around you decrease the chances of victimization.
The BB found that one-third of consumers who were targeted but did not participate, already knew about the specific type of scam. In addition, consumers who understood the tactics and behaviors of scammers did not take part in the con.
As you can see, being aware of the ways people may try to take advantage of you, can really prevent you and the people around you from becoming a victim and suffering a financial loss.
For more information on how to be smart, informed consumers go to bbb.org.
*This information comes from the report, “Exposed to Scams: What Separates Victims from Non-Victims,” comes from the BBB Institute for Marketplace Trust, the FINRA Investor Education Foundation, and the Stanford Center on Longevity.