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People of color more likely to lose money to scams, BBB data shows

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Posted at 10:19 AM, Feb 18, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-18 10:19:50-05

The internet became even more of a hot bed for phishing and online scams during the pandemic. Everything from fake ads about puppies and N95 masks for sale, to claims of COVID-19 therapies, vaccines and extra stimulus money.

Now, we're learning a little more about who is more likely to fall for these.

“We have to be careful to control for the fact that the people who are more likely to report a scam may not be the same types of people who are victimized, so this is an important control we had to make,” said Anthony Dukes, a marketing professor at the University of Southern California.

Dukes, along with a colleague at the University of Minnesota, looked at data reported to the Better Business Bureau (BBB) last year. They found that people of color are more likely to lose money to scams. It's the same for people that live in areas with higher levels of lower education.

They determined this by comparing BBB data to census data based on zip codes.

Dukes sees this as a need for more fraud education within these communities.

“What I think this is a call to such organizations to increase awareness of not just reporting possibilities, but also to be aware of the traits of scammers,” said Dukes.

White and more educated people do tend to report scams more to sites, like the BBB scam tracker.

Women were twice as likely as men to report a scam and twice as likely to lose money, but when men do fall victim, they lose considerably more money than women.

It's pretty even across age groups in terms of reporting and victimization, but older people do tend to lose more money.

About 30% of scams reported to the BBB involved losing money, mostly to buying something online.

But when you look at what type of scams are the most successful, they're actually the ones that start in person, not on social media or websites.