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Aging Seniors Most Vulnerable Age Group To Tech Support Scams

Ageing seniors, 60 years of age and older, are the most vulnerable age group to tech-support scams, according to a recent FTC report.


These ageing seniors are three times more likely than adults ages 20 to 59 to be ripped off by impostors posing as friends or relatives. And older folks were more than twice as likely to fall for a prize, sweepstakes or lottery scam.


Consumers who said they were 60 or older filed more than 256,000 fraud reports, with losses of nearly $400 million in 2018.

The largest sum of money lost to crooks was sent by wire transfer. Credit cards were the second most common method used. Other payment methods were cash or cash advances, checks, and gift cards.


Alarming statistics, indeed. This latest report by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is called Protecting Older Consumers 2018-2019.


This report was issued last week as the FTC is responsible for protecting consumers from unfair, deceptive or fraudulent practices.


Ageing Seniors: How Scammers Rip Them Off

In the majority of cases, adults age 60-plus who reported fraud in 2018 said the scammers first reached out to them in a phone call.


Also, less often, the initial contact comes through social media or an online pop-up notice, an email, or after the consumer-initiated the communication by shopping online.


Seniors are afraid to report that they have been scammed. Last year, senior citizens were the least likely of any age group to report losing money to fraud, the FTC report says. Older adults, were especially vulnerable to certain kinds of scams, including bogus tech-support.


Be aware of how these scammers operate. Con artists will often pretend to be with the Internal Revenue Service, Social Security Administration, or even the FTC, according to the report. They start off by telling people they’ve won a prize, money, or a grant but insisting that the money won’t be handed over until a fee is paid. When you hear that you have to pay to win the prize, then it’s time to hang up the phone, fast.


For example, during the year ending June 30, 2019, more than 100 people age 60-plus reported they had lost more than $1,000 apiece to FTC impersonators. In many cases the perpetrators contacted the victims daily, “building relationships and creating trust,” according to the FTC report.

Ageing Seniors Lose Large Amounts Of Money

The economic impact of seniors losing large sums of money is devastating. Many reported feeling a loss to their self-image as competent people with a lifetime of experience that would help them avoid being fooled. And some victims took their losses as proof that they were now incapable of handling their own money.


The FTC report to Congress is the agency’s second annual look at how frauds and scams disproportionately hurt the growing population of older Americans. The findings are based on an analysis of nearly 3.1 million complaints last year to the FTC’s Consumer Sentinel Network.



People 80 and Older Suffer Biggest Losses

A key finding is that in 2018, seniors were less likely than young adults to report losing money to fraud. The same was true in 2017. Yet, those 60-plus lost larger amounts than younger adults.


Look at these statistics:

  • People 80 and older had the highest median loss: $1,700, representing a 55 percent increase from the prior year.
  • People 70 to 79 had the second highest median loss: $769, a 24 percent increase.
  • Age group 60 to 69 had the third highest median loss: $600, a 20 percent increase.
  • Ages 50 to 59 had the fourth highest median loss: $508, a 2 percent increase.
  • Age group 40 to 49 had the fifth highest median loss: $455, a 3 percent increase.
  • Ages 20 to 29 had the sixth highest median loss: $400, which was unchanged from the prior year.
  • People 30 to 39 had the lowest median loss: $385, a 1 percent increase.


Why are seniors so vulnerable to these scams?


The FTC says the growth in losses among seniors can be explained by differences in the types of fraud. As they age, seniors are more likely to be harmed by real estate and time-share resale frauds. These scams rake in a bigger haul than the online shopping frauds. Therefore, seniors let down their guard and are most easily taken advantage of.


Elder fraud is a serious and growing problem, according to the FTC. The U.S. Census Bureau projects that by 2030 more than 20 percent of U.S. residents will be 65 and older. This compares to 13 percent in 2010 and 9.8 percent in 1970.

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