Why Older Americans are Top Scam Targets

Scammers who target the elderly seem to be all around us. You’ve likely heard about the grandparent’s scam where a caller claims to be an individual’s grandchild needing emergency cash. Another classic theme is that the individual has won a prize or giveaway.

The elderly are top targets because there’s a general perception that many lose mental acuity as part of aging. However, a new government report suggests otherwise. Statistics from the Federal Trade Commission’s 2022 Consumer Sentinel Network (CSN) data book indicate that a much younger age group falls for scams most frequently.

The new report indicates that Americans ages 30-39 get defrauded at a rate of 176 victims per 100,000 in their age bracket. By comparison, those ages 70-79 reported a significantly lower rate of 132. Some elders remain sharp in spotting fraudsters, but there is another reason older Americans would still be targeted. They generally have more money.

CSN’s statistics document that victims in their 70s lost twice as much cash as Millennials. Once a target hit the 80-year-old mark, individual losses rose another 60% over 30somethings. The only good news was that the attack rate against older Americans was just 40% of the younger age group.

One reason risks are believed to be so high for younger folks is that they trust the internet more than their elders. The only exception to these findings would be tech support scams, which hit older populations the hardest.

Anatomy of a scam

To stop a scam, you must learn to spot one. The more you know, the more you’ll protect your extended family. The main hallmarks of cons to watch for and detect could include the following elements:

• Claims of significant financial gains
• Promises of financial security
• Scare tactics or efforts to trigger fear
• Slim details of how a promoted venture works
• Considerable pressure to make a rapid decision or commitment
• Gift cards requested for fund transfers.

For example, common schemes involve selling victims so-called “business services” in connection with the victims’ purported online businesses.

Be proactive

Suggest that elder relatives and neighbors establish a buddy system. They can pair up with a friend or family member and agree to review all offers or solicitations before any commitment. This buddy approach translates into two pairs of eyes on any offer instead of one. The immediate buddy benefit is that the second individual has yet to experience the scare tactics or emotional ploys the scammer used. That guarantees greater objectivity.

As Summer/Fall approaches, your family may schedule a trip to see relatives or attend a family reunion. A family picnic can be the perfect time to discuss new scams in circulation and how to spot them. The person you save might be your 31-year-old cousin or an 82-year-old great-aunt.

You’ll find additional advice worth discussing in the new CSN infographic on age and loss breakdowns. It reveals the top 5 methods of contact scammers use as well as the most common ways fraudsters request payment.

It’s wise to lock down your contact information as much as possible. That includes phone numbers and email addresses. In addition, obtain a secondary email address to use in situations that make you uncomfortable, such as online price quote forms.

You and your family may appreciate the complete identity monitoring that IDShield provides. Once our 24/7 monitoring is set up, we will monitor for personal data leaks and alert you to potential harm. Our package of services can deliver peace of mind, too.