Older Australians are less likely than younger people to be victims of consumer fraud. However, of all the crimes perpetrated against older people, fraud is one of the most common. So although the prevalence of this crime is relatively low, consumer fraud is a greater issue for older people than are many other types of personal crime.
This paper focuses on the prevalence, victim characteristics and types of fraud to which older people are at risk. This important information is taken from data collected for the Australian Crime Victims Survey conducted in 2000. The survey data is based on self-reported experiences of crime victimisation. For this analysis, respondents have been divided into two age categories: 16 to 64 years, and 65 years and over, and their responses compared.
It was found that older people are more at risk when they are more socially, commercially and financially active, as such activity exposes them to a greater number of potentially deceitful transactions. Specific types of transactions are also analysed. For example, older people are more likely to be victims of investment/insurance fraud than younger people, but less likely to be victims of Internet fraud or vehicle purchase fraud.
The paper concludes by considering possible prevention strategies, including public awareness programs and legislation directed at activities related to consumer fraud.