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People Over 60 Most at Risk From Scams

Adapted from AARP Bulletin, December 2019

Older Americans were much more likely than younger adults to be victimized by several common scams last year, a report by the Federal Trade Commission shows. And when they were hit, the oldest victims lost more money.

Those 60-plus were nearly five times more likely than those ages 20 to 59 to fall victim to tech-support fraud. Also, they were three times more likely to be conned by impostors posing as friends or relatives and more than twice as likely to fall for a sweepstakes or lottery scam.

The troubling trends were documented in the FTC’s annual “Protecting Older Consumers report. “Unfortunately, older adults have been targeted or disproportionately affected by fraud,” the report states.

In 2018, people 60-plus filed more than 256,000 fraud reports with losses of nearly $400 million.

“When older consumers are victims of scams, they tend to lose a lot more money than younger victims-often their entire life savings,” says Kathy Stokes, director of the AARP Fraud Watch Network. The median loss for people in their 70s was $769 in 2018, while losses for those over 80 reached a whopping $1,700. The median loss for adults under 40 was about $400, compared with $600 for those in their 60s.

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