A new narrative
As the centenarian agency in the consumer protection world, the FTC knows that changes in the marketplace almost always affect trends in fraud – and that fraudsters follow the headlines. And we listen when the US Census Bureau tells us that more Americans are 65 and older now than at any other time in US history. So we anticipate that fraud targeting older citizens will increase in the next few years.
That’s just one reason the FTC launched a fraud education campaign aimed at active older people, a group with life experience and social networks. They’re also the group with tidy nest eggs. Pass It On is based on the idea that older adults are part of the solution, not simply the victims of scammers. The campaign acknowledges older people’s experience, expertise and trusted place in the community. It reinforces what they already know about some common scams, and gives them the tools to start conversations about these scams with a friend, neighbor or relative.
We hope this project will help change the narrative about older people and fraud. Think about the news stories you see on the topic, and how often you see or hear the words “vulnerable,” “frail,” and “victim” as part of the story. There’s no question that some older people are scammed – and that when they are, the consequences are severe. Losing money to fraud at any time of life packs a wallop; losing it when there’s no time to recoup the loss is especially devastating. But our complaint data suggests that that’s not the experience of most older adults – that is, people who are active and engaged in their communities.
So we’re choosing to accentuate some positive messages and enlist the nation’s active older adults in the continuing fight against fraud. And folks who are over 65 – and the people who work with them – are responding in kind: Orders for over 300,000 copies of the materials have come in from 49 states in just eight weeks.
You can view the materials online or order your own free copies. The topics in the first phase of Pass It On are imposter scams, identity theft, fundraising fraud, health care scams, paying too much and ‘you’ve won’ scams. See for yourself. And then, pass it on.