5 Senior Citizen Scam Statistics You Need To Know In 2023 [Infographic]

senior scams

According to the most recent reports from Consumer Affairs, seniors are swindled out of more than $3 billion each year, with an average loss of $34,200 per victim. 

The good news? There are things that you can do if you’ve been the victim of a scam. Take care of yourself by staying connected with loved ones and getting support from professionals if needed. You should also report the crime to the authorities and file a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

Spread the word to help prevent others from becoming victims. By being informed and taking action, you can help protect yourself and others from these costly and harmful scams.

Below, we’ll detail the latest statistics related to senior scams and give you information on how you can stay protected in the future. 

Scams by the Numbers

2021 Internet Crime Report

The internet has revolutionized the way we live and work, providing unprecedented levels of access to information and opportunity. However, it has also created new opportunities for criminals. 

According to the latest statistics, there were 92,371 internet crime victims over the age of 60 in 2021, resulting in total losses of 1.7 billion dollars. This represents a 74% increase from 2020, with victims losing an average of $18,246 per victim. 3,133 victims lose over $100k to scams. 

Seniors are more likely to report fraud with no financial loss.

According to the Federal Trade Commission, seniors are much more likely to report fraud than younger consumers, even if they haven’t lost any money. This may be because seniors are more likely to identify fraudulent activity early and report it right away. 

Younger adults, on the other hand, are more likely to lose money in scams before they realize what’s happening. The majority of fraud reports filed by seniors with the FTC don’t include any financial loss, which shows that seniors are generally good at recognizing internet scams. 

So if you’re a senior citizen, continue this encouraging trend by reporting any suspicious online activity to the authorities. 

Seniors who report financial loss lose more money than younger consumers.

A 2022 Federal Trade Commission report found that while seniors are more likely to file complaints when they are victims of fraud, even when they don’t lose money at all, they tend to lose more money than younger consumers when they do fall for scams.

The number of older adults who experienced fraud increased from 2019 to 2022, with adults aged 80 and older losing the most money. The median individual financial loss reported by people aged 80 and older was $1,800, which is a significant increase from the previous years. 

Seniors lost almost four times the median loss of those in their twenties and thirties and two to three times more than other age groups. 

As we age, we become more trusting and less likely to question unexpected requests for personal information or large sums of money. Scammers take advantage of this by using high-pressure tactics to convince their victims to act quickly without thinking. 

Seniors tend to lose money from online shopping and business imposters the most.

There are a variety of scams that target senior citizens, and unfortunately, many of them are quite successful. 

One of the most common types of scams is the online shopping scam. This is where someone will pose as a legitimate online retailer and offer goods or services at a significant discount. 

Of course, once the seniors have made their purchase, they never receive the goods or services they were promised. 

Another popular type of scam amongst seniors is the tech support scam. This is where someone will call seniors pretending to be from a tech support company and offer to fix a non-existent problem with their computer. Of course, once they have remote access to the senior’s computer, they can then install malware or even steal personal information. 

Finally, government imposter scams are also quite common. This is where someone will call or email seniors pretending to be from a government agency and ask for personal information or money. Unfortunately, these types of scams can be very convincing, and seniors often fall victim to them.

Miscellaneous investment scams cause the largest losses.

Scammers are always coming up with new ways to cheat people out of their money, and seniors are often targets. Unfortunately, this can result in substantial financial losses. 

Miscellaneous investment scams tend to cause the largest losses for seniors, averaging $17,172 stolen per senior aged 70 to 79. 

Another high-cost scam for seniors (particularly those 80 or over) is a romance scam, resulting in $10,000 lost per person. 

Telemarketing scams are the most common for seniors.

Top Scam methods by age group

Seniors are twice as likely as other consumers to make purchases over the phone. This makes them an easy target for scammers.

Telemarketing scammers will contact seniors by phone and try to get them to purchase something or reveal personal information. They may threaten victims with arrest, foreclosure, or deportation if they don’t comply. 

Seniors are twice as likely as other consumers to make purchases over the phone. This makes them an easy target for scammers. 

Online scams are also common for seniors. Scammers will create fake websites or apps that appear legitimate to get you to enter your personal information. These scams can be difficult to spot, so you need to be vigilant when on the phone or internet.

What are the most common types of senior scams?

Fake Medical Insurance Plans

One of the most common scams targeting seniors involves unscrupulous companies that claim to be selling comprehensive healthcare plans. They falsely claim they are experts who provide government-sponsored health insurance policies, and some even claim to be affiliated with AARP or be providers of Medicare supplement insurance plans, going so far as to create official-looking websites.

In reality, the plans these companies sell are not comprehensive and have limited benefits. Some plans are medical discount plans rather than insurance plans and don’t offer adequate coverage.

Tech Support

Some scammers operate fake technical support operations, which are promoted through internet ads directed toward those needing technical support or password recovery assistance.

When consumers click on these ads, they are provided with options for diagnostic testing. These fake tests will falsely reveal the presence of viruses on their computers. This “test” is a tool that these companies use to convince seniors that they need to purchase a service plan to remove these viruses and prevent further problems. Seniors unaware of this scam and deciding to purchase these service plans are putting their financial well-being at risk when they provide credit card information for payment.

Robocall Credit Card Interest Reduction

These robocall scammers claim they can help seniors lower their credit card interest rates to as low as zero percent. They claim they just need to confirm and collect information to activate this discount.

Scammers involved in this scam trick consumers into providing their credit card numbers, Social Security numbers, and other personal information. They use this information to apply for unauthorized credit cards in consumers’ names.

The new, lower-interest credit cards issued to consumers often have low promotional rates for a limited time and will eventually increase. Consumers can be left on the hook for substantial bank or transaction fees. 

Business Opportunity Schemes

“Be your own boss. Enjoy your golden years. Fire your boss and build your dreams.” These are just some of the claims you may have seen in ads made by scammers running business opportunity schemes. These ads make unsubstantiated claims that people who purchase their programs or sign up for their services can make thousands of dollars in a short time.

In reality, consumers end up paying thousands of dollars for worthless programs without getting their money back. In addition to investing large amounts of money, many seniors have also ended up with loans or credit card debt to cover the cost of these financial scams.

Money Transfer Systems Fraud

There are several different types of money transfer system scams that con artists use to steal money from unsuspecting consumers. Some may claim to provide transfer services for a fee to send money overseas. Others may tell you that you’ve won a lottery or cash prize, and you need to send them money to cover processing fees and taxes. Some scammers pose as representatives from charities who want you to transfer money as a donation.

Another common way scammers use money transfer scams is to pose as sellers on auction websites such as eBay. When a consumer purchases a product and uses a money transfer to pay for it, the seller takes the money but doesn’t send the product.

Real Estate Scams

Some scammers use fake real estate deals to steal money from seniors. These fake companies claim they are selling lots for residential development in new, luxury communities in foreign countries—often in Central America. They claim these developments will include luxury amenities like golf courses. They also claim that since these developments will be completed soon, the value of the lots will increase quickly, providing buyers a large amount of equity.

These scammers often have colorful brochures highlighting how attractive the developments are, when in reality, the land is far away from utilities, out in the middle of nowhere, or not worth a fraction of the price paid. Sometimes scammers even use fake documents to sell land they don’t own.

Negative Option Marketing

This scheme involves companies that are giving away free trials of their products if buyers pay shipping and handling costs. After unsuspecting consumers sign up for these free products, the scammers enroll them without their consent into an auto-delivery plan for more products at full price. Sometimes consumers are also charged full price if these free trials are not canceled within a short time.

Unscrupulous fraudsters have also used this method to scam consumers out of money by charging them for additional products they did not even purchase. These scammers sell various products, including personal care items, weight loss products, nicotine patches, and subscription programs.  

Anti-Aging/Health Claims

Scammers often target seniors by selling fake anti-aging products that promise miraculous results, from fake Botox alternatives and face creams to youth serums and stem cell therapy treatments. Some companies make unsupported claims that their products can help cure medical conditions, such as Parkinson’s disease and macular degeneration.

Unsuspecting consumers can spend several thousand dollars as they sign up for expensive initial anti-aging treatments and then find out they need more treatments to achieve the promised results.

Some of these anti-aging products are nothing but placebos, and some may include harmful chemicals, such as formaldehyde.

How to Avoid and Report Scams 

Below are some tips to help you protect yourself from unscrupulous con artists and avoid becoming the victim of a scam.

Question Companies’ Claims and Motives

If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Companies that claim their products can cure illnesses, provide miraculous results, take years off of your appearance, or land you in the middle of a luxury development in paradise are probably not legitimate.

Never share your personal or financial information over the phone.

If someone who claims to be from your bank or credit card company contacts you, don’t provide any information over the phone. Instead, ask for a phone number to call them back. Scammers usually hang up at this point. Remember that any companies, agencies, or creditors you do business with will already know your personal information.

Don’t buy anything from solicitors over the phone.

If someone tries to sell you something or collect money for a charity over the phone, you should tell the caller that you don’t purchase items or donate money over the phone, and you will need information in writing.

Get on the “Do Not Call” list.

This is a free national registry designed to prevent telemarketers from contacting you. You can register your home or mobile phone to eliminate these calls. You could still receive calls from charities, debt collectors, or political groups since the registry doesn’t apply to them.

Remember you may be at risk from those close to you.

According to the National Council on Aging (NCOA), more than 90% of all elder abuse, including financial abuse, happens at the hands of seniors’ family members. Strangers aren’t the only ones who can defraud you, and many family members, including adult children and grandchildren, have drained joint bank accounts and stolen assets from their senior relatives. 

Monitor your credit card and bank accounts.

Check your bank and credit card statements every month for any unauthorized charges. Call your credit card company immediately if you notice any suspicious credit card activity. For suspicious activity with your bank account, contact your bank.

If you have been the target of a scam, you should report it to the FTC. Filing a complaint can provide investigators with the information they need to identify scammers and prevent them from harming others. You can contact the FTC by phone or online:

FTC: (877) FTC-HELP (877-382-4357) or TTY 866-653-4261



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