By Lois Greisman
Federal Trade Commission, Elder Justice Coordinator
You might have read media stories about older people losing lots of money to scams. It does happen — and FTC data show that when people over 80 report losing money, the amount they lose is a lot higher than the amount younger people lose.
But that’s not the whole story. In fact, FTC data also show that people 60 and older are great at reporting the fraud they see — and can be great at avoiding it, too. Because, according to the FTC’s 2017 data, people 60-plus are much more likely to report fraud than people in their 20s — but far less likely to say they lost money.
That’s an important part of a report the FTC just sent to Congress [in October]. The report, “Protecting Older Consumers 2017-2018: A Report of the Federal Trade Commission,” also noted the top scams where older people are more likely than younger people to report losing money (tech support scams, business imposters, prizes/sweepstakes/lottery scams, romance scams and family/friend imposter scams).
The report talks about what the FTC is doing about fraud against older adults — including some of our law enforcement: from a case challenging phony sweepstakes, to one challenging bogus tech support, to a case over alleged claims that a product could treat everything from arthritis to memory loss.
And it covers our Pass It On campaign, which focuses on older adults and gives them the information they need to start a conversation about scams with family and friends. [Visit www.consumer.ftc.gov/features/feature-0030-pass-it-on.]
The idea of Pass It On is central to the FTC’s work on older adults: talk about scams. Tell someone, because you’re less likely to fall for a scam that you’ve talked about. And then tell the FTC, because — in both cases — you might help someone else avoid that scam. And, like the cases mentioned above, we might be able to put a stop to it all together. So visit ftc.gov/complaint to tell your scam story.