Colorado Attorney General and AARP Foundation Cautions Families about Fraud this Holiday Season
AARP Foundation Survey Finds Fraud and ID Theft Concerns on the Minds of Coloradans 50+
DENVER – Dec. 6, 2017 – As families gather this holiday season, they should consider a new topic for the dinner table. Fraud and scams can affect Coloradans of all ages and backgrounds. A survey report, recently released by AARP Foundation ElderWatch, gauged the experience and knowledge of Coloradans 50+ about a variety of scams, identity theft and consumer protection.
“Protecting Colorado consumers from fraudsters and scammers is a cornerstone of the work that we do,” said Attorney General Cynthia Coffman. “Unfortunately we know that there are bad people out there who specifically target seniors, and that makes it increasingly important for us to continue to stay connected with consumers who are our eyes and ears on the ground alerting us to what new and returning scams are being perpetrated. We use the information we receive from people across Colorado to fight fraud in our state and we encourage anyone who has been contacted by scammers to report it and help us protect other consumers.”
Respondents were asked about known scams that targeted them or someone in their household.
- 63 percent received a phone call or notice from an imposter IRS agent
- 70 percent received a phone call or other notification from a scammer claiming to be a tech support representative
- 53 percent received a notification about winning a sweepstakes or lottery, but were asked to pay fees in advanced to claim the funds
- 24 percent received an emergency phone call or notification that a relative (most often a grandchild) needed them to wire money to get them out of a dangerous situation
“Though only a limited number of survey respondents reported losing money as part of these scams, it is valuable to understand the prevalence of imposter tech support, IRS, lottery and grandparent scams,” said Amy Nofziger, Director Regional Operations, AARP Foundation. “We are dedicated to continuing to educate Colorado’s seniors about these scams so we can one day put the scammers out of business.”
Concerns about identity theft and precautions being executed to avoid such theft were tracked as part of the survey. Respondents were asked about their level of concern, instances of identity theft that have targeted them, dangerous behaviors and how they protect themselves. Some key findings:
- 82 percent said they are either extremely/very/somewhat concerned about identity theft
- 51 percent had fraudulent charges on their credit/debit card
- 40 percent had personal/account information compromised
- 15 percent had their Social Security number compromised
- 10 percent had an email account hacked and used
To help determine how people might be jeopardizing their identity, respondents were asked questions about at-risk behaviors.
- 40 percent engaged in at least one risky online activity while on free, public WiFi (shopping, paying bills online, etc.)
- 38 percent say most online account passwords are all the same or mostly the same
- 15 percent changed online banking passwords over a year ago/never
- 26 percent do not have a password/PIN for their cell phone
“One of the most common steps an individual can take to help protect their identity is to check their credit report,” said Nofziger. “A surprising statistic that came out of this survey was that 83 percent of respondents had not ordered a free copy of their credit report (from www.annualcreditreport.com) in the past 12 months. Additionally, 44 percent claimed to rarely or never check their credit report.”
When asked how much of a priority should it be for Colorado to work on stronger consumer protections from scams and fraudsters, 81 percent of respondents indicated top or high priority, 15 percent indicated medium priority and 3 percent said low/not a priority at all.
“Through this survey it is clear that Coloradans over fifty are concerned about being targeted by fraudsters and they are anxious to see something done about it,” said Nofziger. “We encourage individuals targeted by scams to report it, so we make other potential victims aware of the scams that are out there.”
For more information about fraud and scams in Colorado visit the Colorado Attorney General’s consumer protection website:www.stopfraudcolorado.gov. To report a scam or inquire about a potential fraud or scam call the AARP Foundation ElderWatch helpline: 1-800-222-4444.
About the Survey
Defeating Deception: Gauging the Fraud Experience & Knowledge of Coloradans 50+
AARP Foundation engaged Alan Newman Research (ANR) to conduct a quantitative research study among Colorado residents ages 50 and older to gauge their experience with and knowledge about a variety of scams. ANR completed a total of 1000 telephone interviews (700 via landline telephones and 300 via cell phone) from September 5 – 12, 2017. The total sample of 1,000 respondents yields a maximum statistical error of ±3.1% at the 95% level of confidence.
AARP Foundation ElderWatch
AARP Foundation ElderWatch is a program with the Colorado Attorney General and AARP Foundation; its mission is to ensure that no older adults are left to suffer, alone and in silence, at the hands of those who exploit them. The program fights the financial exploitation of older Coloradans through education and outreach, data collection and the providing of assistance.
AARP Foundation works to ensure that low-income older adults have nutritious food, affordable housing, a steady income and strong and sustaining bonds. We collaborate with individuals and organizations who share our commitment to innovation and our passion for problem solving. Supported by vigorous legal advocacy, we create and advance effective solutions that help struggling older adults transform their lives. AARP Foundation is the affiliated charity of AARP. Learn more at aarpfoundation.org.