3/5/2021 4:21:00 PM BBB research: Certain demographic groups more vulnerable to scams
A new analysis of consumer scam reports submitted to the Better Business Bureau indicates a larger portion of Black, Hispanic, Asian, and other racial minorities are more likely to lose money when targeted by scammers.
This and other findings come from researchers at the University of Minnesota and the University of Southern California who used data collected through the BBB Scam Tracker consumer reporting platform between January 2017 and September 2020. They analyzed over 167,000 reported scams, with particular attention to scams reported between March and September 2020, and their report gives a broader perspective than previous analyses about how scams impact minority communities.
According to the data analysis, women were much more likely than men to report an attempted scam and were twice as likely as men to report money loss; however, men who did lose money lost higher amounts than women. Age did not appear to have a significant effect on the rate of monetary loss, though older victims tended to pay more once victimized.
Consumers reporting from zip codes with a population less likely to have GED or high school equivalent education are more likely to lose money when targeted by scammers, the data showed. However, none of these factors is associated with higher dollar losses. In fact, those reporting from zip codes with a higher-than-average median income are more likely to be victimized and to lose higher amounts of money.
Phishing and online purchase scams spiked in early pandemic
In this analysis, 30% of reported scams included a monetary loss, which is consistent with findings from the annual BBB Scam Tracker Risk Report. Scams involving online purchases were persistently the most common scam type reported, followed by phishing requests. Both of these scam types spiked in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic.
There was a notable increase in reporting of scams during March - September 2020, particularly for online purchase and phishing scams, as well as all scams related to COVID-19. The rise and fall of COVID-19 scams coincided with the period of intense shortages, with the most common COVID-19 related scam in the U.S. involving the sale of masks and other personal protective equipment (PPE).