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AARP Utah: Study Addresses Internet Scams

PHOTO: Internet fraud and a look at who's most likely to be victimized are the topics of a new study by AARP. The group also offers free resources to help people avoid scams, online and elsewhere. Photo courtesy CDC.
PHOTO: Internet fraud and a look at who's most likely to be victimized are the topics of a new study by AARP. The group also offers free resources to help people avoid scams, online and elsewhere. Photo courtesy CDC.
March 5, 2014

SALT LAKE CITY - Some Internet users in Utah and across the nation may be at greater risk of being victimized online, according to a new study from AARP.

The study, "Caught in the Scammer's Net," found that 34 million Internet users may be more likely to be victimized based upon a certain profile of characteristics, said Laura Polacheck, communications director for AARP Utah . For instance, she said, people who feel isolated or are experiencing financial stress are at greater risk.

"Sometimes, when they see something on the Internet, it somehow has more validity than if they see it through the mail or otherwise," she said. "So they might click on an offer or click on a free trial, and not realize there's just as much likelihood that it could be a fraud as from anywhere else."

The study of 11,000 adults compared scam victims with non-victims. It found that victims are more likely to click on pop-up ads, open an email from an unknown person and sign up for free trial offers. It also found that two-thirds of the victims say they often or sometimes feel isolated, and more than 40 percent report having financial stress.

Polacheck said AARP's new "Fraud Watch Network" provides no-cost resources to help people of any age avoid being scammed, online and elsewhere.

"It gives you access to resources and a network of experts from law enforcement who can help you spot fraud, so you can protect yourself and your family," she said.

The Fraud Watch Network and study results are online at aarp.org/onlinefraud.

Troy Wilde, Public News Service - UT