In the digital age, scams targeting older adults have become alarmingly prevalent. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has been on the frontline, striving to safeguard older consumers from fraudulent schemes. Their recently issued report to Congress provides a comprehensive overview of the current landscape, highlighting key trends, law enforcement actions, rulemaking efforts, and outreach programs. This report, titled “Protecting Older Consumers, 2022-2023,” uncovers some disturbing facts and makes a compelling case for enhanced measures to combat fraud aimed at older Americans.
A Staggering $1.6 Billion in Losses
In 2022, older adults reported losses exceeding $1.6 billion due to scams. However, this amount is just the tip of the iceberg, as most frauds go unreported. The FTC estimates that older adults may have lost as much as $48 billion. This enormous figure underscores the urgent need for stronger protective measures.
Rising Losses in Specific Scam Categories
The report reveals significant increases in losses from various scam categories:
- Investment scams: Losses amounted to $404 million, a staggering 175% rise from the previous year.
- Business impersonation scams: Reported losses reached $271 million, showing a 78% increase.
- Tech support scams: Losses escalated to $159 million, marking a 117% surge from 2021.
Age Disparities in Reporting and Losses
While older adults are substantially less likely to report falling victim to scams, those who do report losses tend to be significantly higher than younger adults. For instance, consumers aged 80 and above reported a median loss of $1,750 to fraud, while those in their seventies reported a median loss of $1,000. These numbers have increased from the previous year, reflecting the severity of the issue.
Online Fraud vs. Phone Call Scams
The report emphasizes the shift in scam methods. Older adults reported the largest number of online frauds, often originating from social media or online ads. However, the largest median losses resulted from scams initiated through phone calls. Furthermore, scams initiated via social media saw a significant rise in median reported losses, increasing from $460 in 2021 to $800 in 2022.
FTC’s Vigilant Efforts
In response to the Supreme Court’s AMG Capital decision, the FTC is taking specific actions to protect older consumers. Proposed rulemaking on government and business impersonation aims to provide additional tools for seeking refunds for consumers affected by these scams.
The report also highlights several impactful enforcement actions against companies involved in fraudulent activities, including cases against Publishers Clearing House, robocallers, and companies making baseless claims about COVID treatments.
Educating and Empowering Older Adults
The FTC has launched outreach and education programs, like the “Pass it On” campaign, which equips older adults with the knowledge and resources to protect themselves and their communities. These initiatives aim to prevent scams and empower older Americans to become advocates against fraud.
As the FTC continues its dedicated efforts to protect older adults from scams, we are here to provide valuable assistance. If you or a loved one has fallen victim to fraudulent schemes or Do Not Call list violations, don’t hesitate to take action.
Contact our law firm for a free consultation to discuss your situation. Our experienced team is ready to guide you through the legal aspects of consumer protection. Your peace of mind is our priority, and we are committed to helping you safeguard your rights.
Don’t delay; reach out to us today to ensure you’re equipped with the knowledge and support you need to protect yourself and your community.
Source: FTC Issues Annual Report to Congress on Agency’s Actions to Protect Older Adults | FTC