magnifying glass examining the word fraud
(Credit: Sean Gladwell/Getty Images)

Tech scams are among the most common, and costliest, kinds of fraud that older adults fall victim to, and their losses more than doubled over the past two years, a new report shows.

Adults aged 65 or more years who fall victim to fraud scams lose, on average, more than $1,000 annually, according to a new report sent to Congress this week from the Federal Trade Commission.

The median amount for fraud victims aged more than 80 years is even higher, at $1,750, the report shows.

Considering that many recent studies have shown that older adults have a better understanding of technology than ever before, the statistics serve as a reminder that scammers have responded in kind, either in prevalence or sophistication. 

Overall, older adults lost $159 million in tech support scams, the FTC report states. Although that dollar figure is still less than other categories, such as business impersonation or investment scams, it represents a 117% increase between 2021 and 2022.

The FTC report echoes similar analyses, which show that computer/IT scams are among the most common kinds of fraud aimed at seniors, including robocalls and government rep impersonators. 

If there is a silver lining, it’s that a majority of participating seniors are aware of the pitfalls of social media — either scams or misinformation — based on a ClearMatch Medicare study from last month.

In light of the higher amounts of financial losses seniors incurred last year, the FTC recommended new legislation, or an update to a 2021 Supreme Court ruling that limits the agency’s ability to recover the losses.

“We do all we can to protect older adults and shut down the scams targeting them,” Samuel Levin, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, said in a statement. “But we still need Congress to restore our authority to get money back from the scammers and into consumers’ pockets.”

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