The Federal Trade Commission’s Consumer Sentinel Network took in more than 334,000 fraud reports filed by Americans age 60 or older, with reported losses of more than $600 million, the commission reported in its annual report to Congress on protecting older consumers. The median individual monetary loss was highest among adults age 80 and older.
Older adults continued to report higher individual median losses than younger adults, the report noted, and were more likely than younger Americans to report financial losses related to tech support scams, prize, sweepstakes and lottery scams, and family and friend impersonation. Specifically, romance scams were the top fraud type by dollars lost, with older Americans reporting $139 million in losses, followed by prize, sweepstakes and lottery scams ($69 million) and business impersonator scams ($65 million), the FTC said. Older adults also submitted more than 26,518 fraud reports related to COVID-19 in 2020, with $104 million in reported losses.
As consumer behavior shifted to online channels during the pandemic, reports of losses to online shopping fraud among older Americans doubled in 2020, and remained above pre-pandemic levels in early 2021. Compared to other age groups, however, older adults were less likely to report losing money to online shopping fraud. While online contact methods are increasingly being employed to defraud older adults—with online fraud reports topping reports of phone fraud for the first time—the FTC noted that among the 80 and older cohort, phone scams were still the most prevalent.
The American Bankers Association Foundation offers resources to help older Americans and their caregivers guard against financial fraud through its Safe Banking for Seniors Program.