Some groups appear more vulnerable, and vast majority of Michigan residents aged 50 to 80 say policymakers, companies and organizations should do more to protect people from scammers
More than two-thirds of older Michigan residents say someone has tried to scam them by phone, text, email, mail or online in the last two years, a new poll shows. Three in ten say they’ve been the victim of at least one scam.
And overall, Michiganders appear to be slightly more likely to become the victim of a scam if they experience a scam attempt, compared with their peers nationwide.
But some groups of Michiganders age 50 to 80 appear to be more vulnerable to experiencing fraud related to a scam, including those with disabilities or lower household incomes, according to the new results from the first Michigan Poll on Healthy Aging.
The poll, based at the University of Michigan Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation, is supported by the Michigan Health Endowment Fund. Starting in spring, IHPI expects to issue Michigan-specific polls regularly, in conjunction with the release of reports from the National Poll on Healthy Aging, also based at IHPI and supported by AARP and Michigan Medicine, U-M’s academic medical center.
“These findings about older Michiganders and scams, and our related national findings, suggest a real need for awareness and action by older adults, their loved ones and policymakers,” said Jeffrey Kullgren, M.D., M.P.H., M.S., who directs both polls.
Anyone interested in receiving updates from either or both polls can sign up at https://www.healthyagingpoll.org/email-sign-up.
Key findings from the Michigan Poll on Healthy Aging about scams:
A slightly higher proportion of older Michigan adults than their peers nationwide reported experiencing fraud, with 45% of Michiganders who faced a scam attempt saying that they had an account comprised, identity stolen, or another negative outcome, compared with 39% nationwide.
The percentage who reported experiencing fraud from a scam was higher among Michiganders with household incomes under $60,000. Just over half (54%) of this group said they had experienced fraud, compared with 38% of those with higher incomes.
Scam victimization was also much more common among older Michiganders who said they have a health condition or disability that limits their activities a lot or somewhat: 59% of this group said they had experienced fraud, compared with 37% of those without these conditions.
Michiganders didn’t differ from the national sample in the percentage of those who said their credit card or bank account were compromised as a result of a scam in which they were a victim. In both polls, about 1 in 4 of the older adults who reported experiencing fraud said this happened.
Within the group of older Michiganders who said they experienced fraud, 30% of women said their credit card or bank account were compromised, compared with 15% of men. Similarly, 30% of Michiganders aged 65 to 80 who experienced fraud said their credit card or bank account had been compromised, compared with 18% of those aged 50 to 64.
Older Michiganders with a health condition or disability that limits their activities were almost three times as likely as those without such limitations to say that they had an account hacked by a scammer.
Recognizing scams and wanting more protection
In all, 62% of older Michigan adults expressed uncertainty about their ability to spot a scam, similar to the nationwide percentage who said the same.
The Michigan poll also shows the importance of Area Agencies on Aging, senior centers and other local resources in helping older adults avoid scams. Michiganders who said they were familiar with community resources for older adults were more likely to say they were very confident they could spot a scam.
When the poll team asked older adults about their interest in learning more about how not to become the victim of a scam, and their feelings about needing more protection from scams, the response was nearly universal.
In all, 84% of Michiganders aged 50 to 80 said they want to know more about how to protect themselves – similar to the national percentage.
And 97% of older adults in both Michigan and the nation agreed that policymakers need to do more to protect people from scams, while a similar percentage agreed that companies should do more. Even those who said they were confident they can spot a scam, and those who said they had not been victims of scams in the past two years, were just as likely as their peers to agree with these statements.
The poll report is based on findings from a survey conducted by NORC at the University of Chicago for IHPI and administered online and via phone in July and August 2023. The national sample was 2,657 adults aged 50 to 80 and was subsequently weighted to reflect the U.S. population. The Michigan-specific poll included 551 adults aged 50 to 80; 314 Michigan respondents in the national sample were combined with an additional 237 Michigan respondents, and the Michigan sample was separately weighted to reflect Michigan population figures from the US Census
- Wayne State University offers Successful Aging through Financial Empowerment (SAFE) for Michigan older adults who experienced fraud or want to learn more about how to spot scam attempts
- AAARP offers information and support for fraud victims through its Fraud Watch Network program. Learn more at https://aarp.org/fraudwatchnetwork.
- The Michigan Attorney General’s office offers a range of information on spotting and reporting scams: https://www.michigan.gov/ag/consumer-protection/consumer-alerts
- The Federal Trade Commission’s Pass It On site offers fraud identification and reporting information, and members of the public can report fraud via the FTC at https://reportfraud.ftc.gov/#/ or by calling 877-382-4357
- The FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center is the central hub for reporting internet-based crimes: https://www.ic3.gov/