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Report: Almost 1 Million Hoosiers at Risk for Online Fraud

Posted On March 07, 2014

By Mary Kuhlman, Indiana News Service

computer-keyboard-laptop-hand-typing-internet.jpg(Indianapolis, Ind.) – Close to 1 million Hoosiers may be putting themselves at risk of becoming a victim of a fraud on the Internet.

A new survey from AARP found it’s a combination of online behaviors and life experiences that put a person at the greatest risk of being scammed.

It’s a situation Melvin Armstrong of Carmel knows all too well.

He says he did what he thought was the safe thing and used a credit card with a low limit to purchase a gift online.

The $40 gift turned into a $4,000 fraudulent charge.

“Someone intercepted my online purchase,” he explains. “They were out of Texas and somehow they were able to call the credit card company and get an increase in my credit card, and I didn’t know about this until after I received my credit card statement.”

The AARP report found people who feel lonely or are facing a financial hardship may be prone to one of the 15 behaviors that increase their risk of being victimized, such as clicking on a pop-up ad, opening an email from an unknown source or signing up for free trial offers.

The AARP Fraud Watch Network connects people to free resources to avoid being scammed.

It’s available at aarp.org/fraudwatchnetwork.

According to the survey, 72 percent of web users in Indiana faced an online attack in 2013.

Armstrong says it took several months of work with federal and several state governments before getting his problem resolved.

He’s participated in one of AARP’s Fraud Watch Network trainings and has some advice for Hoosiers.

“Have a lower credit card limit and only use that for purchasing online,” he stresses. “Make certain you follow up on your purchase, and watch your bills from that time on.”

According to the Federal Trade Commission, reports of consumer fraud have increased by more than 60 percent since 2008 and online scams doubled from slightly more than 20 percent of all fraud in 2007 to nearly 40 percent of all fraud in 2011.