FTC Report Reveals Top 10 Biggest Senior Fraud Scams

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) released a report this week dedicated to educating American consumers on the biggest ways in which fraudsters attempt to take advantage of American seniors, detailing the 10 most prevalent forms of scamming taking place against older Americans.

The determination was based on data collected from surveys from federal agencies in 2019, and the report was compiled for presentation to the Committees on the Judiciary of the

United States Senate and the United States House of Representatives in compliance with the Elder Abuse Prevention and Prosecution Act of 2017.

RankScam TypeTotal Senior $ Lost
2Gov’t Impostor$61m
4Business Impostor$34m
6Tech Support$24m
7Timeshare Sales$17m
8Family/Friend Impostor$17m
9Online Shopping$14m
10Timeshare Resales$13m

“Analysis of total dollars reported lost by older adults, by fraud type[…]  highlights the devastating effects of romance scams, government imposter scams, and prize, sweepstakes, and lottery scams on older adults,” the report reads. “The highest aggregate dollar losses reported in 2019 by those 60 and older were again in the romance scam category. Older adults reported aggregate losses of nearly $84 million on romance scams in 2019. Adults 60-69 and 70-79 reported over $80 million of these losses, making romance scams the category of highest reported losses for both of these age groups.”

While romance scams are the most devastating for senior finances by a reasonably wide margin, government imposter scams ranked highly in their own right, taking $61 million from older adults aged 60 and higher in 2019.

“The prize, sweepstakes, and lottery category ranked third for adults 60 and over, with $51 million in aggregate dollar losses reported. Note that almost half (over $22 million) of the losses reported by older adults on prize, sweepstakes, and lottery scams were reported by adults 80 and over, making that category of fraud the highest on total dollars reported lost for adults 80 and over.”

For government impostor scams, bad actors posing as members of the Social Security Administration (SSA) increased to their highest level on record in 2019, rising 30% over the number of instances recorded the year prior. Technology has allowed scammers posing as government officials to increase the volume of people they can reach with little overhead, the report says.

“Scammers posing as government officials have been a menace to consumers of all ages for many years,” the report reads. “Using low-cost Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) phone services and robocall technology, they have reached millions of households posing as virtually every government agency, including the FTC. While a period of decline in government imposter reports is encouraging, the numbers of complaints about unwanted calls has been creeping up again.”

Read the report at the FTC.

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