Desperate consumers more vulnerable to scams

Scammers are always lurking around every corner. But now they've got a much bigger reason to try to dupe you: the economy. Scam artists are well aware that during difficult economic times, many consumers are more likely to fall prey to them.

Why? Because people feel desperate. They're often willing to take a chance on anything that might get them in a better financial position, even if they really can't afford to do so. What's another $500 or $1,000 or $6,000 on top of their already heavy financial burden? To many consumers, it makes sense to risk that much because they're already so bad off.

The National Consumers League says they received over 15,000 fraud complaints last year, with more than one-third reporting an actual financial loss that averaged over $2,300. The number of people being swindled and the cost to them has risen since 2007.