The reality is that you might be fine at fighting off scammers most of the time but one day someone catches you when your guard is down or things aren’t running smoothly.

Ask anyone who has been scammed – or almost scammed. And they’re bound to tell you that they were juggling too much work on the job or dealing with a long list of upsetting situations and worries at home. And the COVID-19 pandemic only made everyday life even more stressful.

Con artists who have been interviewed in the past admit that their odds get better when they’re able to throw someone off kilter, said Doug Shadel, an AARP fraud expert.

“It happens to all of us. No one is immune to this,” Shadel told me in a phone interview.

Coping with a stressful event wears us down, physically and mentally. We consume valuable cognitive capacity to deal with a challenge. When we’re worn down, our defenses are down and we could lose money when confronted by a crafty scammer.

Even getting hit with a large expense, such as a medical bill or car repair expense, can throw your emotions off balance.

“It’s less about who you are as a personality and it’s more about how you are at the moment,” Shadel said.

“These are not weaknesses in human beings. It’s just about being human.”

Stress can work in their favor

An estimated 9 in 10 U.S. consumers – or roughly 229 million people – encountered some type of scam or fraud attempt last year, according to a new AARP research…

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