By Stacy M. Brown
NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent
Scams and fraud are significant problems in America, and AARP, in partnership with the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA), has continued to sound the alarm.
Recent statistics in an AARP/NNPA roundtable revealed that seven in 10 Black adults think scams and fraud have hit a crisis level, and 85% of Black adults agreed that victims should report the crime to law enforcement.
This crisis is especially fraught within the Black community, and AARP officials said it emphasizes the need for all to work together to reframe the discussion around fraud victimization.
“This is an issue that we highlighted last year as well,” said Kathy Stokes, AARP’s director of fraud prevention programs, who offered new insights into the impact of fraud and scams in the Black community and tips for protecting consumers.
One essential tool Stokes highlighted is the AARP Fraud Watch Network, a free resource where individuals could learn how to proactively spot scams, get guidance from our fraud specialists if targeted, and feel more secure knowing that we advocate at the federal, state, and local levels to protect consumers and enforce the law.
“Protecting consumers goes back to AARP’s founding,” Stokes said.
“There is a need to rethink fraud in America.”
AARP, an interest group focusing on issues affecting America’s over-50 population, noted that all should stay informed, find support, and have a voice in the fight against fraud.
The organization hopes to avoid the plight of victims like one woman who said fraud committed against her caused her to “see disappointment in my children’s eyes.”
“They see me as the person who gave away our family money,” said the unwitting victim, who has remained anonymous.
“I seriously contemplated suicide during this mess. I was devastated,” added the victim, who described herself as a happy but not rich wife, mother, and daughter.
She pleaded, “Please remember I am a person who failed her children, and that is what hurts me the most.”
But Stokes said it’s important that victims understand that it’s not their fault — unfortunately, many prey on the elderly, the poor, and the unsuspecting.
Among the keys to combating fraud and ensuring family relationships remain intact are more reporting, police officers viewing the crime more seriously, prosecutors taking on more fraud cases, and policymakers acting to protect the vulnerable.
If those steps are taken, billions of dollars will remain in America’s economy, Stokes said.
Additionally, an AARP Victim Support Program is available to those of all ages and provides 1-hour free virtual sessions.
It also supports and empowers victims, lowers stress, and allows for a safe space to discuss fraud.
“This gives me a much deeper understanding of the mental health impact of fraud,” added an AARP volunteer.
“Of course, I knew it was devastating – but nothing substitutes for hearing directly from victims.”