2003 Consumer Experience Survey: Insights on consumer credit behavior, fraud, and financial planning

Author & Publishing: AARP

Year: 2003

Focus Area: Prevalence, Profile

Relevance: The rate and financial impact of fraud in the U.S. remains unclear, and survey studies such as this provide a useful window into the experiences of consumers.  By focusing on those 45+, this survey targets those with greater wealth and, potentially, more to lose.

Summary: This report examines the consumer behavior of adults age 45 and over.  It includes a measure of “bad experience with products or services,” which is identified as fraud or non-fraud.  Key findings include:

  • About 4 in 10 consumers reported ever having a bad buying experience when buying a product or service.
  • The percentage of consumers reporting a “bad experience” has increased significantly in recent years.  For instance, those reporting not receiving a product or service in the promised time increased 12% from 1999 to 2003.

Of those reporting a “bad experience,” 37% defined the experience as a major swindle or fraud.

  • Approximately 3.75% of the 45+ sample surveyed reported having been the victim of a fraud.
  • Approximately 2% of respondents reported that a given fraud cost them more than $1000.
  • The most frequent types of fraud reported by victims were: faulty car sale, false advertisement, company of purchase went out of business, and house contractor fraud.
  • African-Americans and 30% more likely than the general population and 45% more likely than Hispanics to indicate that a swindle or fraud cost them more than $1000.

Author Abstract: The 2003 Consumer Experiences Survey is the fourth survey in a series of periodic studies conducted in the past 10 years. The three previous surveys of consumer behavior were conducted in 1993, 1999, and 2000. 1 The current study examined many of the same topics from the past three studies including buying experiences with products and services, knowledge about investment terms, and experience with major fraud or swindles. However, other pertinent issues have been added to the current study including privacy and identity theft, and predatory mortgage lending.

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