People over 60 lost nearly $1 billion in online frauds and scams last year, according to a report from the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) released today.
The sudden need to shop online and the fear of COVID-19 made older Americans even more of a target for scammers and criminals than they had been in the past.
For example, the pandemic required many older people to shop online for the first time, and non-delivery of goods was one of the common fraud schemes that older victims experienced, the report said.
“The combination of online shopping and social media creates easy venues for scammers to post false advertisements,” the report said. “Many victims report ordering items from links advertised on social media and either receiving nothing at all or receiving something completely unlike the advertised item.”
The most common scams against seniors in 2020 were:
- Tech Support Fraud
- Identity Theft
Why Older Adults are Vulnerable
As a growing part of the U.S. population, older people are an attractive target for fraudsters and scammers.
This demographic tends to have more financial stability, which makes them a target for criminals looking to make quick profit. Older Americans may be more easily intimidated or lonely, making it harder for them to get help.
Learn More and Protect Your Loved Ones
Older people may know to be wary of physical crimes (like always locking their doors). But they may not have the same level of awareness to protect themselves against scams. That’s why families and caregivers should be aware of the risks and let people know how to report suspected crimes.
The FBI and our partners work to investigate many scams and crimes against older people, but prevention and awareness are critical. Whether it’s tricking someone into becoming a money mule or trying to convince them they won a non-existent “lottery,” savvy criminals know how to prey on their victims.
On this World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, visit the FBI elder fraud page to learn about common fraud schemes that target older people as well as practical tips on how to protect yourself or your loved ones from scammers.