Credit: Dobrila Vignjevic/Getty Images
Adults 80 or older who made fraud reports to the Federal Trade Commission’s Consumer Sentinel Network, or who had reports made on their behalf, lost a median of $1,300 to fraud in 2020, according to a new FTC report to Congress.
This age group had a higher median dollar loss than any other decade of adults in 2020, but the 2020 median loss for those aged 80 or more years represented a decrease of 19% from 2019, the report authors said.
Prize, sweepstakes and lottery scams were the No. 1 type of fraud reported by adults in their 80s, with more than $31 million in losses reported due to such scams, “far higher” than any other fraud category for this age group, the FTC said.
Government imposter scams, with $11 million reported lost, were the second most reported type of fraud among this age group.
People in their 80s were 43% less likely to report being affected by a scam than are people in their 30s. When looking at reported losses, however, researchers found that among consumers who reported losing money to people impersonating the Social Security Administration, people in their 80s lost 93% more than people in their 30s.
Other findings in the report:
- Reports to the Consumer Sentinel Network suggest that online contact methods increasingly are used to defraud older adults, and this trend became more pronounced with the COVID-19 pandemic, authors said. People in their 80s, however, were an exception — this age group continued to report losses to phone frauds far more frequently than online fraud. In 2020, 48% of reports indicating a dollar loss by adults in their 80s were phone frauds, and 23% were online frauds.
- Phone scams remained particularly costly to adults 80 and over, according to the report: 62% of aggregate reported losses by this age group were to phone fraud, and the median individual reported loss to phone fraud was $3,000 for people in their 80s.
- For the 80-and-over age group, loss reports indicating a phone call as the method of contact were most often prize, sweepstakes and lottery scams.
- Older adults (60 and older) submitted more than 26,518 fraud reports related to COVID-19 in 2020, with $104 million in reported losses. For adults in their 80s, the reported median individual loss was $798.
- As in 2019, 2020 Sentinel data showed that people in their 80s were “far more likely” than other age groups to have a Sentinel report filed on their behalf than were people in other age groups, the FTC said. Approximately 21% of reports involving people in this age group were submitted by someone else. “Notably, reported losses were higher for all reports submitted by third parties, but the median dollar loss for reports filed on behalf of adults 80 and over, at $4,000, was much higher than other reports,” the report authors said.
The report, Protecting Older Consumers, 2020-2021, A Report of the Federal Trade Commission, also includes information about other age groups and the FTC’s efforts to protect older consumers through law enforcement actions and outreach and education programs.