FTC Finds Fraud-Related Losses Up Among Older Consumers

Consumers aged 60 and older lost nearly $400 million to fraud in 2018, according to a report submitted to Congress last week by the Federal Trade Commission. The report, Protecting Older Consumers 2018-2019, details the FTC’s efforts to protect older consumers from fraud through research, law enforcement and education.

While FTC consumer complaint data from 2018 found that consumers aged 60 and above reported fewer incidents of losing money to fraud than younger adults, the dollar losses were higher for the older group—and on the rise. The median individual loss for consumers 80 and older was $1,700—a 55% increase over the previous year. Older consumers were also more likely to report losses resulting from certain types of fraud, including tech support scams, impostor fraud, and prize or lottery scams. Most fraud against older consumers was conducted over the phone, followed by online scams. And while gift cards are becoming the payment method of choice for scammers, wire transfers hold the top spot for total dollars lost to fraud.

The FTC offers a variety of outreach and education resources aimed at preventing fraud against older consumers. Banks can also participate in the ABA Foundation’s Safe Banking for Seniors program, which provides resources for banks on preventing elder fraud and partnering with law enforcement, as well as education materials for customers and community seniors.