Reimagine Everything: A Question of Saving Face at the Risk of Being a Silent Victim

February 23, 2018 • AARP, Columnists

By Ron Mori

An AARP survey of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders 50 years and older on fraud and scams found that nearly four in 10 older AAPIs report that they or their family members have experienced fraud schemes. Additionally, one-third (33 percent) of victims lost $15,000 on average.

Nonfinancial costs are even more widespread, with most fraud victims (72 percent) experiencing some sort of emotional, physical or mental health impact, including anger, stress and anxiety, difficulty sleeping and shame. In short, everyone is at risk no matter your age, income or education level.

This fraud survey underscores the need to raise awareness around fraud and scams in order to protect against financial and nonfinancial loss — especially for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. Awareness and education are major factors in avoiding fraud, but many AAPIs age 50 and older may be overconfident in their ability to spot common scams. In the survey, nearly three of four participants (73 percent) were confident they could spot a fraudulent offer, yet the majority (71 percent) failed a general fraud knowledge quiz of six questions, unable to correctly answer more than half of the questions.

Some of the most common types of fraud targeting AAPIs age 50 and older include:

  • Foreign lottery scams (36 percent)
  • Crisis-related charitable donations (33 percent)
  • Tech support scammers offering virus removal (32 percent)
  • IRS imposter calls to collect back taxes (24 percent)
  • Phishing emails — emails that ask for your personal contact information (20 percent)

AARP offers advice on dealing with the nonfinancial impact of fraud, including:

  • Understand you are not alone and that it’s not unusual to experience feelings of anger, shame and embarrassment.
  • Rechannel those feelings into action. Volunteer to help educate others about fraud. Share tips with family and friends.
  • If you have continued feelings of shame, embarrassment or anger, seek professional help. Talk to your doctor or another professional.

Family members can also support a victim of fraud by:

  • Listening with an empathetic ear to your loved one.
  • Ask questions to better understand the situation and context in which the fraud occurred.
  • Keep lines of communication open.

Remember to focus frustration and anger on the scam and the perpetrator — not the victim.

  • Listen for clues of continued participation, such as: “I’m going to win money” or “the nice man on the phone said … .”
  • Read the free AARP Fraud Prevention Handbook and discuss it with your family members.

AARP urges people who have lost money to a scammer to report it immediately to the consumer credit bureaus (directions available on their websites) and credit card companies if a charge card was involved. Victims should also report scams to the Federal Trade Commission and your state Attorney General’s office.

Protect Yourself From Con Artists’ Latest Tricks

Every year, thousands of Americans are impacted by fraud and scams — but you can beat con artists at their own game by joining the AARP Fraud Watch Network. When you sign up, you’ll get:

  • The latest, breaking scam alerts, delivered right to your inbox.
  • Prevention tips based on thousands of hours of interviews with con artists and law enforcement.
  • Access to resources from our network of experts.
  • Access to a special network of people like you who are sharing their experiences with scams, so you know what to watch out for.

The Fraud Watch Network is free of charge for everyone. By joining, you’ll learn how to shop and bank safely, create strong passwords, protect yourself from identity theft and scams, use social media risk-free and more.

Protect yourself and your family. Join the AARP Fraud Watch Network today at and search for the Fraud Watch Network to sign up.

Ron Mori is a member of the Washington, D.C., JACL chapter and manager of community, states and national affairs — multicultural leadership for AARP.

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