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May 7, 2024
AARP Report: Elevated Risks of Fraud Are Pervasive in America
Report details how criminals are using everyday communication methods like text, phone calls, and social media to target fraud victims

WASHINGTON – An estimated 141.5 million adults (42%) have had money or sensitive information stolen through fraud, according to a new AARP Fraud Watch Network report. The report highlights what US adults are doing (or not) to protect themselves, their knowledge of top fraud tactics, and their sentiments about fraud in our society.

Most of Americans are at elevated risk from fraud by using the same or similar passwords across online accounts, not using a virtual private network (VPN) when on public Wi-Fi, engaging with social media quizzes, downloading free apps, and responding to communication (text, messages, calls, etc.) from people they don’t know. The report also shows that a majority of adults (58%) worry about fraud, reflecting its increased growth in recent years. Furthermore, more people today believe that fraud can happen to anyone, which is a significant change in sentiment from 2019 when older adults were perceived as the primary victims.

“The growth of the fraud industry seems to know no bounds,” said Kathy Stokes, AARP director of fraud prevention programs. “While prevention education is critical, we cannot educate our way out of this crisis. It’s important that we establish a unified front to protect ourselves and those we care about through reporting and resources.”

The AARP survey showed some good news: most adults update their device’s operating software when prompted (these often fix known vulnerabilities) and use multi-factor authentication on their accounts, which provides stronger protection from fraud.  The survey also found that the majority of US adults are aware that criminals seek to convince targets of an urgent financial matter that can be addressed with gift card purchases or by converting cash to cryptocurrency. Notably, however, Black Americans were slightly less likely than others to be aware of these tactics – which is further substantiated by reports of fraud being greater among Black adults than other groups.

AARP is committed to combatting fraud on many levels. In addition to education and supporting victims and their families, AARP is leading an effort to change the narrative on fraud victims. For too long, victims have been blamed for these crimes, rather than the criminals who commit them. This has served to deprioritize fraud as a crime, which has played a role in fraud’s exponential growth. Shifting the focus to the criminals behind these crimes can lead to more reporting to law enforcement and more victims seeking the support they need. Learn more here.

The AARP Fraud Watch Network is a free resource that equips consumers with up-to-date knowledge to spot and avoid scams, and connects those targeted by scams with our fraud helpline specialists who provide support and guidance on what to do next. Anyone can call the helpline at 877-908-3360. The Fraud Watch Network also offers free, facilitated peer discussion groups that seek to provide emotional support for those experiencing fraud; and advocates at the federal, state, and local levels to enact policy changes that protect consumers and enforce laws.


About AARP
AARP is the nation's largest nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to empowering Americans 50 and older to choose how they live as they age. With a nationwide presence, AARP strengthens communities and advocates for what matters most to the more than 100 million Americans 50-plus and their families: health security, financial stability and personal fulfillment. AARP also works for individuals in the marketplace by sparking new solutions and allowing carefully chosen, high-quality products and services to carry the AARP name. As a trusted source for news and information, AARP produces the nation's largest circulation publications, AARP The Magazine and AARP Bulletin. To learn more, visitñol or follow @AARP, @AARPenEspañol and @AARPadvocates on social media.

For further information: Henry Kenney III,, 202-714-0214