When it comes to recovering from phone scams, says Ron Mori, it's not always about financial losses. It's also about the toll that being scammed takes on a victim's physical and mental health.
Mori, a senior adviser with AARP focusing on Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities, recently spoke at an FCC webinar marking Older Americans Month. Noting that May is also Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, Mori highlighted findings of a recent survey of AAPIs ages 50-plus:
- 40 percent of AAPIs age 50 and older reported that they or their family members have experienced fraud schemes, and one third of those victims lost an average of $15,000
- 36 percent of AAPIs age 50 and older fell victim to a foreign lottery scam
- 33 percent of AAPIs age 50 and older fell victim to a crisis related donation scam
- 30 percent of AAPIs age 50 and older fell victim to a technical support/virus removal scam
- 25 percent of AAPIs age 50 and older fell victim to an IRS/tax collection scam
- The Chinese Embassy robocall scam defrauded victims of approximately $40 million
"Anyone can be a target of fraud," Mori said, "but there are some indicators that those with lower English proficiency may be at a higher risk."
Then there are what Mori described as the "non-financial costs" of fraud that shouldn't be ignored. Seventy two percent of fraud victims experience an emotional, physical or mental health impact, he said, including shame, anger, stress, difficulty sleeping and anxiety. AARP urges fraud victims to seek professional help if these kinds of feelings persist.
"These issues can really impact a person's well-being," he said. "Especially in communities with low English proficiency where there's a higher tendency of language isolation. If you're a victim of fraud, this just compounds that impact."
To help people deal with the personal impact of fraud, Mori suggests channeling negative feelings into positive action by:
- Volunteering to educate others about fraud -- especially those in multicultural communities
- Lending an empathetic ear to fraud victims, let them know they are not alone
- Keeping the lines of communication open to help victims avoid social isolation
AARP offers free materials specifically for multicultural communities, such as the AAPI Fraud Prevention Handbook (available in Chinese). The AARP's fraud watch network offers consumer information on the latest scams such as "blessing scams" that prey on Chinese communities.
For full video coverage of our webinar, visit www.fcc.gov/news-events/events/2019/05/webinar-information-older-american-consumers.