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Keeping older adults safe from scams

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As today’s annual report to Congress makes clear, the safety of older consumers in the marketplace is a priority for the FTC. Protecting Older Consumers 2020 – 2021: A Report of the Federal Trade Commission summarizes the agency’s ongoing law enforcement efforts, new research results, and extensive outreach aimed at keeping older adults safe from scams including those related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Here are some highlights of the report:

Law enforcement: In the past year, the FTC sued numerous schemes that targeted or had a negative effect on older adults. For example, the FTC charged that:

  • A business marketing stem cell therapy made false claims that its therapy was effective in treating arthritis and joint pain;
  • Sellers of CBD products made claims, without scientific support, about their products’ ability to treat Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, and other serious conditions;
  • Promoters of investment related services falsely claimed they would help people make consistent profits and beat the market.

Research results: An analysis of fraud loss reports filed with the FTC in 2020 shows which scams people 60+ were likely to report losing money to — when compared with adults aged 20 to 59. These include tech support scams, prize, lottery or sweepstakes scams, and friend or family imposter scams. And, significantly, older adults reported losing about $139 million to romance scams in 2020 — the scam category with the highest total reported loss — which is a sharp increase from $84 million in 2019.

Outreach efforts: The FTC aimed to protect older adults from scams by, among other things, sharing our Pass It On campaign materials and issuing Consumer Alerts. Taken together, this outreach has covered topics of interest to older adults, including government impersonator scams, COVID-19 vaccine scams, online safety, and family emergency and mystery shopper scams. In the past year, the FTC engaged in hundreds of public outreach events, meetings, webinars, and other gatherings to help older adults avoid, spot, and report scams.

If a scam affects you, your loved ones, or people in your community, please tell the Federal Trade Commission at ReportFraud.ftc.gov. Your reports help us understand what’s happening in your community.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Comments

I was scammed by two artist who played on my emotions having just lost my sister. They had two friends of mine impersonated who kept telling me to keep giving for I would receive my package of money. I am as disappointed not hearing from the FBI, Dallas Police Department and the FTC on what action was taken.

I was scanned to the offer me free government money through the texting and they told me I need to purchase iTune gift card and I did purchased one but then I did realize something it's wrong and I did not give him information but now I stuck with my iTune gift card I don't know what to do with a 500 iTune gift card

Same here, I thank God I found out earlier enough
So, I use it to purchase

Instead of just reacting after the scam has caused a loss; why not more action on prevention. The way these scams mostly start is either mass robo calling, or mass Emailing. Some effort and effect has been successful in the phone scams/spam/phising. But only to see a huge increase in on-line pop ups, and especially in e-mail phising/spam/scams. I get about 27 "junk" emails a day, most of which are trying to solicit unfounded medical intervention products. Please provide a better way for me to report these suspect scams. Rather than having me fill out lengthy and inadequate on-line forms, provide a method to forward suspect scam e-mail to a site where FTC can gather data and take actions to stop/reduce such scams/mass emailings.

As an elder citizen, the scams come mainly on the phone. Caller ID does not do much good when they steal and use local phone numbers. I get da dozen or more a day, IRS, Medicare, Amazon, Microsoft, Windows, etc. in @nd on and on, nit to mention unsolicited charities. When will legislation deal with this.

I, too, am getting the phone calls that are mentioned here and am sick and tired of receiving them. Most are Amazon, Microsoft, and Medicare.

Hello there,
I read the above article about older adults getting scrams, more lik-
ly then young people. I'm 75-years of age, Like I've been reading a
lot, and hearing a lot on TV. Where people get scramed more these
day, it's not funny. When they take your life's saving's from you.

These scammer calls start at 5AM and dont stop till 10P
WHen I leave, I now unplug the phone so they dont get answering service. Yes, still have LANDLINE and FCC offers NO PROTECTIONS for landlines. They are now working on (announced today) robo-TEXT only. SO the rest of us mere mortals must continue to recieve these annoying calls. I call them back on my computer, and MOST are DISCONNECTED!
IDK why the FCC cant start charging intenet companies that ALLOW spoofing aps and robocalling PERIOD! Also dont understand why they cant seem to figure out WHERE most are coming from. They rarely publish ANY of my comments so it doesnt draw attention to the fact that they COULD CARE LESS

You can go to the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) site to learn more about its consumer protection. 

The FTC tells how to block unwanted calls, including how to install a call blocking device on traditional landlines in this article.  The article also tells where to find apps for specific mobile devices.

Thanks for protecting vulnerable seniors

I'm 61 but I'm not very susceptible to bring scammed. I am a natural born rebel and a cynical lady. I've had numerous attempt made to separate me from my hard earned and limited $, but they've failed each time.
My concern is those who are more trusting and I'm making it my personal mission in life to try to save as many people as I can from being ripped off. My job has me in the public, all ages, races and income levels. I have the opportunity to spend time with people as I do my job merchandising. The older shoppers love to have some conversation with me. I'm going to start having sharing the scams to be aware of with them.
Nobody is 100% immune to losing their money and having their lives ruined so I'm going to start making my soul sucking job worthwhile by helping keep them safe.

Many of us are moving into smaller or cheaper homes, or away from ownership upkeep. Movers are doubling the prices after the goods are loaded on the truck.

I checked the do not call registry and it shows I registered one of my telephone numbers in 2003 and I did not have that number or even live in this state then so I am still getting plenty of calls on that number.

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