Connecticut residents may be putting themselves at risk for investment fraud and identity theft, according to a new survey released by AARP Connecticut as part of its Fraud Watch Network initiative.
The new survey of Connecticut adults age 18 and older reveals that many are not checking the backgrounds of financial professionals before hiring them, and many internet users are not aware how they allow certain websites, applications, or hackers access to their personal or financial information.
According to the survey:
- More than half (54%) of those Connecticut adult residents with personal investments in stocks, bonds, mutual funds, or similar say they typically invest through a broker, financial planner or advisor. Yet, a majority of them (55%) said they have not checked the background of that financial professional before hiring them.
- Many Connecticut adult residents indicate vulnerability to certain investment sales pitches typically used by scammers, and most do not know where to report a potential investment scam.
- Ninety-four percent of Internet users who were surveyed said they had clicked “agree” to online terms of agreement, while only 12% said they had fully read the agreement. A similar percentage indicated they had agreed to online privacy statements without reading the full statement.
- Forty-one percent of those surveyed say they have engaged in two or more risky online activities listed in the survey, such as clicking on pop-up ads, opening email from strangers, or signing up for a free trial offer.
- Seventy-one percent of those surveyed said they had never checked their free credit report from annualcreditreport.com and 48% said they had never accessed their credit account with any credit bureau.
- At least half of Connecticut Internet users incorrectly answered or said they were not sure of the correct answer to five out of eight True/False statements in the survey about sharing personal information online, using public Wi-Fi, privacy settings or policies.
“Each year, investment fraud and identity theft cost hard-working Americans billions of dollars,” said AARP State Director Nora Duncan. “Our survey data show that there is a tremendous need among Connecticut residents for information on how they can protect themselves from these crimes and where to report possible fraud.”
A free resource for people of all ages, the AARP Fraud Watch Network is a go-to resource that offers real-time alerts about the latest scams in each state, a scam tracking map where people can report on scams so their friends and neighbors know what to watch out for, a guide to outsmarting con artists, and a helpline where residents can talk to a trained volunteer for advice if they or someone they love has been scammed.
Here in Connecticut, AARP is working with state, community and law enforcement partners to arm residents with the tools they need to spot and avoid scams, so they can protect themselves and their families.
Trained AARP Fraud Watch volunteers are available to give presentations in the community on ways to spot and avoid fraud so you can outsmart con artists before they strike. To request a free presentation or to become a Fraud Watch volunteer, please contact Erica Michalowski at AARP Connecticut by calling toll-free 1-866-295-7279 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
To view the full survey, go to: www.aarp.org/CTFraudSurvey
Learn more and sign up for free fraud alerts at www.aarp.org/fraudwatchnetwork.