New findings from a two-year study bring researchers closer to understanding why some people are more likely to lose money to financial fraud. The FINRA Investor Education Foundation (FINRA Foundation), Better Business Bureau (BBB) Institute for Marketplace Trust, and the University of Minnesota completed the study, Exposed to Scams: Can Challenging Consumers’ Beliefs Protect Them from Fraud?, in advance of World Investor Week, Oct. 4-10, 2021.

Investigators found that the attitudes and beliefs shaping the ways study participants looked at the world—known as “mental frames”—may have influenced the way they reacted to scams.

Specifically, researchers propose that mental frames governing compliance, opportunity, intelligence, and order may have affected the way that interviewees interpreted what scammers told them. Individuals were more likely to lose money if they believed that:

• Authority should not be challenged.

• Financial opportunities are a zero-sum game with clear winners and losers.

• The world is organized in a way that rewards good people.

• Asking too many questions can make a person seem ignorant.

Study participants were identified from a pool of people who filed reports with BBB Scam Tracker, an online fraud reporting tool offered by the Better Business Bureau. Researchers from Metro Tribal, LLC, an ethnographic-based…

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