This is the final of three columns on the Federal Trade Commission’s publication, “Consumer Fraud in the United States, 2011.” The publication presents findings of a survey the agency commissioned to examine consumer experiences involving fraud.
My first column looked to most common fraud types reported; the second focused on how frauds were most commonly promoted and purchased. This column considers fraud victim characteristics.
According to the FTC, risk takers were more likely to be fraud victims, with those reporting a high general willingness to take risks more than twice as likely to have been victimized than those reporting low willingness.
Those experiencing a serious negative life event in the last two years – events such as a divorce, the death of a family member or close friend, etc. – were more than 2 1/2 times as likely to have experienced fraud as were those who had not suffered such a negative event.
Participants reporting being highly patient were 7 percentage points less likely to have been a victim than those with low patience.
“Those with the lowest numeric skills were … more likely to have been victims … than were those with greater numeric skills” (13.5 percent of those with the lowest numeric skills versus 8.4 percent of those whose skills were rated high).
Participants indicating more personal debt than they could handle financially were significantly more likely to have been a victim than those with less debt (18.8 percent –“almost twice the rate of 9.6 percent for those who felt that they could handle more debt).
The report is accessible at http://www.ftc.gov/os/2013/04/130419fraudsurvey.pdf.