30 Aug RECENT SCAM STATISTICS & SENIORS
Dr. Sherry McCoy PhD
is a freelance writer & actor for the Stop Senior Scams Acting Program (SSSAP) in Los Angeles. Follow SSSAP on Facebook . For more info re: SSSAP, contact Adrienne Omansky at SSSAP4U@gmail.com. Questions for the writer should be directed to “Dear Sherry” at Not Born Yesterday! P.O. Box 722, Brea, CA 92822 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
RECENT SCAM STATISTICS & SENIORS
Dr. Sherry McCoy, PhD – Stop Senior Scams ℠ Acting Program
It’s September 2021, and believe it or not, summer is almost over! The fall equinox is coming up soon — and before we know it, we’ll be headed down the home stretch toward the end of the year. As the days grow shorter and the nights become longer, autumn is the perfect time for reflection. Time to look at where we’ve been and where we’re going. Last month in this column, we reviewed some of the different ways scammers have tried to con us during the coronavirus pandemic. This month we’ll take a little peek at some recent scam statistics and explore how age and fraud loss tend to intersect. Why might you ask? Because according to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) — “Fraud affects every generation differently.”
On October 19, 2020, the FTC issued its Annual Report to Congress on Protecting Older Adults (1). Let me just say that there is a plethora of statistical information in this lengthy report! It was a bit overwhelming! So, I decided to consult with Ann Stahl, Educator for the Stop Senior Scams Acting Program, who worked as an investigator for the FTC for 44 years prior to her retirement. Her expertise is invaluable. She helped me keep an eye on the bigger picture of what these statistics represent, and not get stuck “in-the-weeds!” Many thanks Ann! — Below is a short but concise summary of important statistics from the FTC report – a snapshot, if you will, of the bigger picture as noted by the FTC (2).
In 2019, as in prior years, older adults (aged 60 and older) were less likely than younger adults (aged 20 to 59) to report losing money to fraud, but reported much higher individual dollar losses. In fact, people aged 80 and older reported losing the most, with a median individual reported loss of $1,600.
Although they were less likely to report falling victim to fraud overall, adults aged 60 and older were more likely to report losing money to certain specific types of scams. They were nearly six times more likely to report losing money to tech support scams than younger consumers, according to the report, and were three times more likely to report losses due to prize, sweepstakes, and lottery scams. They were also more than twice as likely as younger adults to report losses due to impostor fraud where someone was impersonating a friend or family member.
The most frequent type of fraud reported by older adults was online shopping scams, which mirrored a significant increase in that type of scam reported in the early months of the pandemic across all age groups.
Older adults reported losing the most money to romance scams, with $84 million in reported losses, followed by government imposter scams at $61 million, and prizes, sweepstakes, and lottery scams at $51 million.
If you’re interested in looking into more specific fraud statistics, say between seniors aged “60-69” vs. “70-79” vs. “80 and over,” you might want to check out FTC’s Age and Fraud Loss Infographics from the FTC’s Consumer Sentinel Network (3). The FTC publishes Sentinel data quarterly in interactive online dashboards. These dashboards include quarterly and annual report info by age and fraud type. To find out more about this helpful feature, go to https://www.ftc.gov/enforcement/data-visualizations/explore-data.
Sometimes, a picture really is worth a thousand words.
And finally, if you have any specific questions or topics you’d like to see covered here in my monthly NOT BORN YESTERDAY column on seniors and fraud, please let me know. I’d love to hear from you! Just write to me at “Dear Sherry,” Not Born Yesterday! P.O. Box 722, Brea, CA 92822 or email@example.com. Thanks! Together, we can Stop Senior Scams!
WHERE TO REPORT SCAMS
If you believe you have been the target or victim of a scam, report it to the Federal Trade Commission at 877-382-4357 or online at https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/#crnt&panel1-1. If you have questions about Medicare fraud / abuse or believe you have been the victim of Medicare fraud contact the Senior Medicare Patrol (SMP*) at 1-855-613-7080. If you feel you have been the target or victim of a scam, you may also report it to the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging’s Fraud Hotline at 1-855-303-9470.
STOP SENIOR SCAMS℠ ACTING PROGRAM CONTINUES VIRTUAL PROGRAMMING
SSSAP is continuing to book virtual programs and will soon be booking in-person programs in the late fall and winter. Please contact Adrienne Omansky at SSSAP4U@gmail.com for more information, or if your organization would like to host our program.
STOP SENIOR SCAMS℠ ACTING PROGRAM on YOUTUBE
Please go to the SSSAP YouTube Channel https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCjFjb-WPPr8KAXq1dlu1EvA to see our new videos. If you subscribe (free of charge), you will be notified when new videos are released. Together we can Stop Senior Scams! Here are links to two of our most recent videos: “The Top Senior Scams with SSSAP” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cp097g7hTUg, and “Robocalls, Mail Fraud and Merlin with SSSAP” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dA3noym9JPo&t=186s.
Remember: You may be a target, but you don’t have to be a victim!
Dr. Sherry McCoy, PhD is a freelance writer & actor for the Stop Senior Scams ℠ Acting Program (SSSAP) in Los Angeles. Follow SSSAP on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/SSSAP2016/?fref=ts. For more info re: SSSAP, contact Adrienne Omansky at SSSAP4U@gmail.com. Questions for the writer should be directed to “Dear Sherry” at Not Born Yesterday! P.O. Box 722, Brea, CA 92822 or firstname.lastname@example.org.