Senior woman using mobile phone while holding credit card
(Credit: Alexandra Iakovleva / Getty Images)

Older adults lost $1.6 billion to scams last year, according to an annual report published Wednesday by the Federal Trade Commission. That’s up from the previous year, which cost older adults $1 billion due to scams.

Investment scams were the most costly in 2022, according to the FTC. Older adults also reported significantly higher losses to investment scams, business impersonation scams and government impersonation scams than they did in 2021. Investment scams are estimated to have cost seniors $404 million, up 175% from 2021; for business impersonation scams, $271 million was reported lost, up 78% from 2021; and for tech support scams: $159 million was reported lost, up 117% from 2021.

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

According to the agency, most frauds go unreported, so the $1.6 billion reported likely is a fraction of the total dollar amount scammed from older adults. The FTC estimates that the number actually could be as high as $48 billion.

“As in prior years, the analysis of fraud reports received by the FTC in 2022 showed that adults aged 60 and over were substantially less likely to report losing money to fraud than adults aged 18 to 59. When they did report losing money, though, they tended to report losing substantially more than younger adults,” the FTC reported. “Consumers 80 and older reported losing a median of $1,750 to fraud, while those in their 70s reported a median loss of $1,000, with both numbers increasing over 2021.”

The data show that adults aged 60 or more years are more than six times as likely as adults aged 18 to 59 to report losing money to a tech support scam. Older adults are more than twice as likely to report a loss to a prize, lottery or sweepstakes scam compared with younger adults, and they are 73% more likely to report losing money to a friend or family impersonation scam than are younger adults, according to the report.