On October 23, 2019 the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) published a press release regarding their report to Congress entitled Protecting Older Consumers 2018-2019: A Report of the Federal Trade Commission. The 40-page report outlines the FTC’s research, law enforcement, and education efforts aimed at protecting older consumers.
The report includes analysis of FTC consumer complaint data. In 2018, as in 2017, adults aged 60 and older were less likely than younger adults (aged 20 to 59) to report losing money to fraud. Younger adults reported losing money more often, but older consumers reported much higher dollar losses. In fact, people aged 80 and older reported losing the most, with a median individual reported loss of $1,700—a 55 percent increase over the previous year.
Although they were less likely to report falling victim to fraud overall, adults aged 60 and older also were more likely to report losing money to certain specific types of scams. They were nearly five times more likely to report losing money to tech support scams than younger consumers, according to the report, and were more than three times more likely to report losses to impostor fraud where someone was impersonating a friend or family member. Prize, sweepstakes, and lottery scams showed a more than two-fold difference as well.
Older consumers reported losing money most often to phone scams, with online scams coming in second place. Payment by gift cards became the most frequently reported method of payment by older adults in the second half of the year, but wire transfers persisted in the top spot for total dollars paid by older consumers.
The report also focuses on key enforcement actions the FTC has taken to protect older consumers, including acting against the operators of fake medical insurance plans, tech support scams, bogus business opportunity schemes, real estate scams, and others. The report highlights a number of ongoing law enforcement partnerships in which the FTC works with other federal agencies, along with state and local authorities, to take actions to protect older consumers.
On November 14th Compliance Resource is sponsoring a two-hour webinar entitled Elder Financial Exploitation: Reporting Requirements and Best Practices. Please join us to learn more about this critical topic.