Black adults most often encounter the government imposter, lottery and work-from-home scams, according to a new AARP report, “Consumer Fraud in America: The Black Experience.”
The report’s authors say that for both fake job postings and romance scams, Black adults far outrank white and other racial groups but remain on par with Latino adults. However, adults from all racial groups rank being targeted by immigration scams among their lowest concerns.
Further, Black adults under age 30 are most likely to report being targeted by a scam as nearly one in five between the ages of 18 and 29 report being targeted by a government impostor or mortgage scam.
The report revealed that the rank of awareness of scams differs by race.
Compared to white and other racial groups or Latino adults, Black adults reported higher awareness of fake job postings, COVID-19 stimulus payment, work-from-home, tax preparation, and Black Lives Matter scams. They also reported lower awareness of utility, grandparent, immigration and business coaching scams.
Incidents of scam awareness also varied significantly by racial groups in the report.
Black adults reported lower awareness of utility, grandparent and immigration scams than one or both of the other racial groups.
AARP commissioned Precision Market Research, Latino Decisions and the African American Research Collaborative to conduct the study in which 2,808 American adults participated.
The study focused on Black and Latino adults.
D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine has remained vigilant in trying to protect District victims and has maintained a particular focus on seniors.
“Older residents have faced a great deal of isolation during the pandemic and could be more likely to fall victim to scams. In fact, referrals to my office of financial exploitation of seniors have more than doubled over the last year,” Racine said. “Protecting seniors and vulnerable adults from abuse, neglect and exploitation begins by understanding the warning signs of these harmful practices.”
“We know that for every one case of elder abuse that gets reported to authorities, there are often dozens more that never come to light. My office can only prosecute cases we hear about, so increasing awareness of elder abuse and reporting is key so we can hold abusers accountable, get relief for victims and prevent further abuse,” Racine said.
The AARP researchers concluded that education counts as critical in helping consumers both spot and avoid scams. However, the survey indicated that educational efforts about scams and fraud might impact Black adults far greater when compared with whites and other racial groups.
According to the report, Black older adults, less affluent and females, are less aware of scams, putting them at higher risk of experiencing a scam.
Black male adults who have attained a bachelor’s degree and reported annual incomes of $100,000 or more indicate a greater incidence of losing money to a scam, the report continued.
Compared with white and other racial groups, Black adults are less likely to have robocall protection or have posted their phone numbers to the National Do Not Call Registry; these protections are designed to reduce fraud susceptibility.
In addition to the direct economic consequences associated with scams, the survey identifies physical and emotional health consequences that Black adults suffer after a scam experience.
“Exposure to scams – being targeted and/or a victim – among Black adults was on par with other racial groups with about one-quarter reporting being a target of two or more scams,” the AARP researchers wrote.
“A similar trend exists among those who report being a victim of a scam which represents about 1-in-5 adults within each racial group.”
The organization reported a troubling trend across all racial groups: more than half of those victimized were victims more than once.
“The proliferation of financial fraud in the form of scams is undeniable,” AARP officials wrote on the organization’s website.
“Federal data show the highest ever year-over-year rise in fraud reports between 2019 and 2020 and we know that scams are severely under-reported. We also know that when consumers are aware of specific scams, they are far less likely to engage with them and far less likely still to lose money or sensitive information.”
View the full report here.

Stacy M. Brown is a senior writer for The Washington Informer and the senior national correspondent for the Black Press of America. Stacy has more than 25 years of journalism experience and has authored...

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