Fraud in minority communities was the subject of a new report from the Federal Trade Commission issued to Congress.
"Combating Fraud in African American and Latino Communities: The FTC's Comprehensive Strategic Plan" discussed the agency's "extensive efforts to combat fraud in not only African American and Latino communities, but every community with an emphasis on raising public awareness and encouraging more fraud reports," the agency explained.
An estimated 10.8 percent of American adults, or 25.6 million people, were victims of fraud according to the most recent FTC survey, with African American and Latino consumers more likely to become victims than non-Hispanic whites (at a rate of 17.3 and 13.4 percent compared to 9.0 percent). To reduce fraud, the FTC report sets forth a three-pronged approach of prevention, law enforcement, and consumer outreach and education.
"Raising awareness of fraud in African American and Latino communities is the first step in prevention," the agency explained, adding that "Talking about fraud helps people avoid scams" as "silence contributes to financial loss."
Data suggests that minority communities underreport fraud to the FTC even though they experience it at higher rates, the FTC said. To solve this problem, the Commission intends to speak at national and regional conferences of organizations that reach African American and Latino audiences and encourage individuals to talk about and report fraud. It will discuss fraud awareness with African American and Latino media outlets to encourage reporting of scams, and launch a pilot program to visit areas with low rates of fraud related complaints.
The FTC also intends to bring more cases against entities that disproportionately prey on African American and Latino consumers (such as affinity frauds, income-related frauds, and debt-related frauds), broaden investigative resources to ensure marketplaces are not overlooked, and perform additional research to help the Commission identify and target frauds affecting minority communities.
For the final component of its strategy, the agency will build on its existing consumer outreach and education efforts to maximize the availability and accessibility of the FTC's educational materials to African American and Latino communities. To that end, consumer education materials will be made widely available in multiple formats (websites, videos, audio, and print) in both English and Spanish, with an increased use of real-life stories to engage interest in the educational campaigns.
The FTC will also continue its examination of fraud in minority communities by hosting a workshop in December on Changing Consumer Demographics. As the population of the United States grows older and more racially and ethnically diverse, the Commission will bring together researchers, marketers, community groups, and law enforcement to consider the predicted changes.
"Who will be the consumers of the future?" the report asked. "How is advertising and marketing changing? How will fraud likely change and what can the FTC and others do to prepare to combat fraud perpetuated against these new consumers? Studying these questions will help the agency continue to strategize and prepare for the years ahead."
To read the FTC's report, click here.
Why it matters: "The FTC is committed to working to promote a fair marketplace for all," the agency wrote in the report. "Combating fraud in African American and Latino communities is an important part of the FTC's fraud program and the agency looks forward to further implementing this strategic plan." Advertisers and marketers should take note of the Commission's fraud prevention strategy as well as the upcoming workshop on changing consumer demographics.