Recent study reveals Black consumers are more vulnerable to holiday fraud and scams

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By Dr. SELENA SEABROOKS

The Dallas Examiner  

 

Most Black consumers have experienced some form of fraud during the holidays, and contrary to common belief, younger adults experience fraud more often than older adults. A recent AARP survey found that fraud, scams and theft are most common among Black consumers under the age of 45.

Recently, American Association of Retired Persons and the National Newspaper Publishers Association co-hosted a roundtable highlighting the impact of scams and fraud on the Black community.

Kathy Stocks, director of AARP’s Fraud Program, revealed that 78% of Black consumers have been a victim of at least one holiday scam. Those scams include:

  • Purchasing items online through an online ad.
  • Having a package stolen, receiving fake notification about a shipment issue.
  • Giving and/or receiving a gift card with no funds on it.
  • Receiving a request for monetary donations to a fake or fraudulent charity.
  • Experiencing a fraudulent travel booking.

Clicking on online ads can lead consumers to fake websites designed to steal payment methods or load malware onto their devices.

“We know that when you purchase something through a social media ad or an ad you see online, the likelihood of that being a scam is pretty darn high,” Stocks explained.

“Twenty-one percent of Black Americans experience fraud booking travel, compared to 12% of the general population, even though Black Americans, based on our survey, travel less,” said Stocks.

The survey found that Black shoppers are more likely to use a debit card than a credit card. While credit cards and debit cards offer essentially the same protections, fraud with a debit card involves money leaving the shopper’s bank account. While the bank investigates the fraudulent purchase, the shopper cannot access the lost funds.

“It could be weeks, months before that is even resolved. So, credit cards are the best way to go, if that’s an option,” Stocks stated.

Peer-to-peer platforms like CashApp, Zelle and Venmo come with risks. Consumers are not protected against losses related to purchases or errors made on P2P platforms.

Gift card fraud disproportionately affects Black consumers, and gift card purchases among Black consumers have increased from 63% last holiday season to 69% this holiday season. Stock explained that scammers could temper with gift cards on store racks by recording the gift card number, exposing and recovering the PIN, and waiting for the card to get activated. Once the gift card is live, the scammer can drain the funds.

The study concluded that a significant gap in knowledge remains, especially among Black consumers, which may inhibit safe shopping during the holiday season.

“We’re not getting in front of Black consumers and telling them what to look for. I think it’s that simple and that compilated. We have better opportunity for some reason, and we need to be talking to Black journalists and communities who represent communities of color to get this information in front of them,” Stock provided as the reason that Black consumers are more susceptible to fraud. “We learned a couple of years ago that if you know about a specific scam, you’re 80% less likely to engage with it, and if you do engage with it, you’re 40% less likely to lose money or personal, sensitive information.”

Tips were provided to keep shoppers safe during the holiday.

  • Never give out your online account login information.
  • Use caution when booking travel.
  • Keep the software on your devices up to date and use an antivirus software.
  • Do not use links that are emailed or texted to you. Instead, type the retailer’s website directly into your web browser.
  • Identify fraudulent ads.

The complete AARP survey is available at https://www.aarp.org.

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