SCAMS AND OLDER CONSUMERS

The FTC just sent a report to Congress called Protecting Older Consumers 2018-2019. The report suggests steps to take to help protect older consumers from fraud. But the evidence also shows a thing or two everyone else can learn from them.

 

60+ adults were the least likely of any age group to report losing money to scams. The overwhelming majority of fraud reports filed with the FTC did not indicate any monetary loss. What’s more, consumers in that age group spotted fraud and reported it before losing any money at nearly twice the rate of people between 20 and 59.

 

Even if they were able to spot scams before losing money, older consumers have heeded the law enforcement call to report fraud. Consumers of all ages can follow their example by reporting their scam stories at ftc.gov/complaint.

 

But when older consumers experience consumer fraud, their reported financial losses were greater than what younger consumers reported. Compared to 2017 numbers, reported median losses among consumers 60 and over increased, and the increase was particularly large for people 80+.

 

In addition to ongoing FTC law enforcement, sharing information with older consumers about scams is still very important. Exposed to Scams: What Separates Victims from Non-Victims?, a report from the FINRA Investor Education Foundation, the BBB Institute for Marketplace Trust, and the Stanford Center on Longevity, suggests that people are much less likely to lose money on a scam they encounter if they’ve heard about it before. So spread the word about scams you hear about in the news or from the FTC.

 

Even though older consumers are less likely to report losing money to scams, certain scams are more likely to strike them. For example, older adults were more likely than younger consumers to report losing money on tech support scams, prize, sweepstakes & lottery scams, and family & friend impersonation. Phone scams did the most financial damage. And while gift cards became the payment of choice for scammers, wire transfers still take the top spot for total dollars paid.

 

Rather than general reminders to “be careful,” offer older consumers targeted tips about tech support scams, bogus prize promotions, and scammers who impersonate family and friends. In addition, talk to older friends and family about specific strategies for reducing the number of unwanted calls and spotting when a phone fraudster is on the line. And tell older consumers within your circle that if anyone contacts them and insists on payment by a wire transfer or gift card, it’s a scam.

 

Protecting Older Consumers 2018-2019: A Report of the Federal Trade Commission includes details about the cases the FTC has brought to protect older consumers and includes links to new topics in Pass It On, an FTC resource you can use to help educate family and friends about fraud.

TAX TIP: GOOD RECORD KEEPING IS JUST GOOD BUSINESS

Recordkeeping is an important part of running a small business.  In fact, keeping good records helps business owners make sure their business stays successful. Here are some things small business owners should remember about recordkeeping: Good Records will help...

HAS YOUR BUSINESS BECOME THE VICTIM OF A SECURITY BREACH?

It is almost impossible to be a business and not collect personal identification information – names, addresses and Social Security numbers etc,. about your customers or employees. If this information is lost or stolen, it could put these individuals at risk for...

INTERNATIONAL CHARITY FRAUD AWARENESS WEEK: October 21-25

  The IRS is joining an international coalition in launching the second annual International Charity Fraud Awareness Week.  The coalitional will raise awareness and share practices to help charities and other not-for-profit organizations avoid fraud and stop...

VETERANS, SERVICE MEMBERS, AND FRAUD

When people report scams to the FTC, we learn a lot about how they experience fraud. These fraud reports are important for law enforcement and education efforts. And, as more and more people report fraud, the data can tell a more detailed story about specific groups...