Protecting older adults is one of the FTC’s top priorities, and a new report to Congress tells how the agency tackled fraud, scams, and other issues affecting older adults over the last year. It’s been a busy year at the FTC, so what are some of the highlights?
One of the cases with the biggest impact on older adults was the FTC’s case against Publishers Clearing House (PCH), charging that the company used “dark patterns” to mislead people about how to enter sweepstakes drawings, making them think they had to buy something to win (or increase their chances of winning). A court required PCH to turn over $18.5 million to the FTC to use for customer refunds.
While younger people were still more likely to report losing money to fraud than older people, reports to the FTC showed that, during 2022, older adults:
- reported losing more than $1.6 billion to fraud, compared to about $1 billion the year before.
- reported losing big to investment scams: $404 million in reported losses, with reports often describing fake cryptocurrency investment opportunities that targeted people on social media.
- reported losing more to business impersonation scams (especially scammers pretending to be Amazon) and romance scams than the previous year.
- were more than six times more likely than younger adults to report losing money to a tech support scam.
To help older adults spot, avoid, and report scams, the FTC keeps collaborating with community groups, law enforcement, financial institutions, aging and consumer professionals, and hundreds of others to share fraud prevention material. This year, partner organizations ordered 2.1 million pieces of information from the Pass It On campaign in English and Spanish. You’ll find campaign material in Spanish at ¡Pásalo!.
To learn more, check out this year’s report. And if you spot a fraud or scam, tell the FTC at ReportFraud.ftc.gov.
The purpose of this blog and its comments section is to inform readers about Federal Trade Commission activity, and share information to help them avoid, report, and recover from fraud, scams, and bad business practices. Your thoughts, ideas, and concerns are welcome, and we encourage comments. But keep in mind, this is a moderated blog. We review all comments before they are posted, and we won’t post comments that don’t comply with our commenting policy. We expect commenters to treat each other and the blog writers with respect.
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That is great information.
Thank you for this timely note. It is encouraging to read of the FTC recovery of funds swindled out of older persons. Would it be appropriate to suggest that the Commission seek Congressional support to increase the penalties imposed on the various perpetrators? Organizing to swindle money out of folks may be low tech, but it clearly is a crime that is infrequently committed on a "spur of the moment" basis. Recovering the swindled money is a priority, of course, but heavier penalties might well be a deterrent.
In reply to Thank you for this timely… by jay jacobson
Hoping the FTC isn't lying to justify keeping their nice cushy jobs..
Actually if you pay enough attention on social media sites like nextdoor especially you can find someone brave enough to post their getting swindled stories which helps to learn about these scammers
Is there anything you can do to stop medicare fraud calls coming from the Philippines. They are a daily nuisance.
In reply to Is there anything you can do… by Ruth Estrella
I would call my phone company and ask them.
Fraud or just plain theft. You hire a moving company that is supposedly licensed & bonded, they assign you more movers than you want (saying time, amount to be moved) then "double team" you while loading or unloading - one keeps you busy while the other one loads your stuff into the private vehicle they come in. I lost $10,000 of property that way and no one will cover it - not auto, not h/o, not the moving company. Motto: hire NO MORE than 2 people, and, better yet, only your friends..... It's a total rip-off, Mafia style racket these days - crime rings, and old people many times have to move to lesser dwellings (guess these crooks figure you're old & don't need the stuff while they need the money they get from the pawn, moving company, or wherever they fence your belongings). Police won't help because you hired them. What a scam!!
You have no idea how much we (seniors) appreciate your assistance in seeing to it that we do not continuously fall for scams, particularly those that sound that if we don't respond, our credit or any interaction that we have with a company we're doing business with (i.e., computer protection) will be jeopardized. Also companies that make promises for services that are not satisfactory or don't meet their promise really take advantage of the elderly (lately it's not just the elderly that are getting scammed or robbed), respond appropriately with a complaint ONLY when you mention, "I'm going to the FTC with this"! So, FTC, GOD BLESS YOU!!!
What is a "dark pattern"?
In reply to What is a "dark pattern"? by Don Dalla Valle
A dark pattern is a design trick to prompt consumers into a certain outcome. They're called dark patterns because they aren't fair. Examples that have made the news are political campaigns prechecking the recurring donation box, so you need to go out of your way to make a one time donation, or websites that require a phone call to stop a monthly charge. They make it difficult to cancel a subscription on purpose, hoping you will give up and letting them keep charging you.
You do great work, FTC! Keep it up.
I have been scammed over $6500The major culpret was STAVV.commMark Inglis.He said I would get my money back in3 months and it didn;t happen.The police were notified.I am 83 yrs. old.I don"t know why he hasn't been arrested..He was suppose to protect not SCAM.
Older adults reported losing more than $1.6 billion to fraud, compared to about $1 billion the year before.
Is this 'awareness', easy channels to report, increase in 'scam' traffic?
The FTC should investigate the fraud scams in Real Estate taxation. It is designed to intimidate, give false high assessments and to over tax elderly causing them to lose their homes. Missouri Jackson County currently hired a tech firm, Tyler Technologies, to conduct this process. The result is massive illegal high assessment causing great distress in the elderly population. It's fraud.
Thank you. Had an elderly family member scammed out of a lot of money last year. It was horrible.
Thank you for all your hard work helping people fight scammers
I just recently lost $79.97 buy placing a purchase through FACEBOOK MARKETPLACE. The scammer had a link going to a website that appeared to be Wayfair.com but it was really a fake website that looked like it. I realized it was fake when the charge came through for an individual and not to Wayfair. The credit card company would not let me stop the payment, which was so unfair. After the payment went through and I filed a dispute, they denied my refund. So, no one is held responsible for these fraudulent charges. I went back to Facebook and found 20 or more of the same fake sites and let them know about them. So, if they can get approval to place the ads on their website, then why are they not held responsible ? How can they expect consumers to catch these scams, if they are supposedly screened and safe. Facebook marketplace is a huge source for purchasing and have the technology and security to protect the consumers from being scammed. Why am I out $79.97 and no one takes the blame?
In reply to I just recently lost $79.97… by Susan Morgan
I'd love to know which CC would not help you. I had similar problem and Amex took it right off my bill.
To set up an account with a cc processor they usually hold some of the vendors money fort cases like this.
I would NEVER use that cc again and I would warn others.
In reply to I just recently lost $79.97… by Susan Morgan
My bank always credits me when this has happened to me a few times. They investigate, make calls, etc. when they hear nothing back or can’t get in touch with the purveyor, they credit the amount back to me.
Honestly, other than reporting these scams to FTC, I suggest you look into another bank! You have rights and it sounds like they’ve abused you on this.
HUD [Housing & Urban Development] came into my home and ruined more things than they did good. I had to wait 5 years to issue any complaints or advise of any problems. I have slime, etc. in my water. I have lights that 'flash' now -I guessing it is a wiring problem. I've replaced my water heater twice. I had to replace the kitchen faucet they installed because it kept falling apart. etc., etc., etc. Can someone / anyone help me with this? I've contacted the HUD people I dealt with initially but cannot get a reply! HELP! I'm 75-3/4, disabled and this has caused my blood pressure to skyrocket. PLEASE HELP ME !!!
In reply to HUD [Housing & Urban… by Sharon M Hughes
Contact your local "Center for Independent Living (CIL)or Independent Living Center" and asked them to assist you.
Thank you for going after Publishers Clearing House. I was defrauded by them so very many years ago, it does my heart good to see you being so successful now.
Thank you again.
Thanks for reminder. Victimized too, as senior citizen.
Scary ,lost confidence with internet.
In reply to Hello Thanks for reminder… by Zenaida R Gravage
The internet providers, Microsoft, Phones carries and Google. They are bullies and law doesn't apply to them. They run this country. We got to keep up the fight. Blessings
I'd love to have the shady contractor who's cost me hundreds of thousands of dollars, nailed for fraud.
I was 61 when I hired him, so getting him for elder abuse won't work. Just a vulnerable widow.
In reply to I'd love to have the shady… by Cappy
I am Right with you , I am 64 and disabled, I was ripped off by a contractor , who never finished the job , I also tried to help a neighbor and paid for work that he never did
my stupidity, But when my insurance company threatened to drop me and informed my mortgage company and they threatened me , I hired another company to do the job which cost me twice as much , again I was stupid, but this 3rd time I had someone get my credit card information and made some charges which I reported as soon as I knew , same person also stoled a rental truck that I rented , I had just had an infusion that’s my treatment every 30 days and my mind wasn’t working properly, I’ll admit again I was stupid and to trusting of people, But when I went to report it to the police I was treated shoddy as tho I had done something wrong , basically accused of it, I will Never Trust anyone ever again, I was raised that people were basically good, I no longer believe that , I will never Help anyone ever again , and I will never be treated by anyone with disrespect and keep my mouth shut ever again.. you can call me stupid, old , to trusting but I will never be know by “”Sucker “” again
That is because we do not know how to use the computer technology. even the younger people have a hard time with remembering as a result of infrequent use. And the passwords keep changing and getting more complicated. and in my case I can not use my financial institution account on a computer because I have no cell phone to receive a confirmation number.
In reply to That is because we do not… by Garush
I'd like to add that even when we ARE savvy about the computer technology, we meet frustration and defeat. Last night I spent a couple hours, including with telephone support from computer Geeks, to fix a problem. Something that had worked until the night before. The headache is often due to Windows, Microsoft, etc doing program changes, with no notification to us, and our having no way of knowing how to use the changed screens/programs. This can even lead to our taking steps that land us in sand traps and big messes on our computer.
Re cell phones: I totally agree. I often cannot use a site nor do online processing of important applications because "mobile number" is set as a required field. I use a cell phone only for emergencies and am barred from "normal living" by the requirement for cell nbr. Then they want to text everything, vs emailing of calling home phone, and when they do so (despite) my telling them not to, obviously they do not get connected. I've literally lost cell phone service and other important messages when companies have done that, and I had no way of knowing they had taken such steps. It's time the "advancing" world of technology stopped for a breath of intelligence and consideration and assessed what customers actually CAN and want to do.
Thank you very much for all your help. I was scammed a couple of years ago by someone impersonating my Health Insurance.
So I really believed them, so I gave out my SS number. The big lesson I learned is don't ever give out the Social Security Number.
Thank you for this article and for the report fraud address. I will use it to report Sean Cox, of Finders Keepers record shop in Rancho Mirage, Ca., who cheated me out of $250. for record albums that he bought from me and never paid for. I am 80 years old.
This is one of the best Federal government agencies within our Democracy, that is working for the people. Thank you!
In reply to This is one of the best… by Cynthia
WE ARE NOT "A DEMOCRACY" WE ARE "A REPUBLIC", READ OUR CONSTITUTION! !!!
I read this a little to late. I apply for a house, I checked the house was in there name, stayed in contact with me. Sent the lease and like a idiot I sent the money. Didn't realize it till we were to meet to exchange the keys. He never showed up didn't answer the phone or respond to my text message. I lost 2400 Hundred Dollars, I had already gave notice of moving out date. Now my grandson and me were going to be homeless. I'm 68 years old have custody of my 15 yo grandson. Thank god I still had money to find a place. However my trust in anybody is zero. Don't send money to any one, most legit places don't ask to send money from your Cash app, Vemno, or Chime. Well some use Chime. Just beware!!! Some one told me I might be able to recoup some of the money but I really don't see that happening.
If Credit cards would require stores/vendors to include Telephone numbers on our bills it would help as we could call the store/vendor to see if we recognized. Also cc companies could give out more info so we could try and track who got my cc number!
Great info. Thanks you!
In regards to credit card companies like capital one suggesting customers to pay their rent, utilities, cable, etc, as a way to earn rewards points and improve credit score. They are obviously targeting individuals who NEED to improve their score. In my opinion, paying household expenses with a credit card ALSO means paying the higher interest rates for that charge. It's very deceiving for someone who is otherwise desperate to raise their credit score and earn points.
In reply to In regards to credit card… by Doreen P
If only it would improve those on a fixed income who have been on autopay for too long and as soon as we get a cold winter and have to turn the furnace back on and thermostat set at 67 like we have every year suddenly the bill went up 3 times more than it should have ? shame on them , or the hackers who somehow slipped inntheir system just to pluck with conservatives
Elderly people who don't have a computer or have limited computer skills are at a GREAT disadvantage. They don't have access to as much anti-scam information. It is much harder for them to report crime, put freezes on credit, contact financial institutions, and so on. Until there are easily accesible, RELIABLE PHONE NUMBERS made available by companies and the government, they will continue to be at a disadvantage.
I'm in 86-year-old widow recently purchased a used vehicle was misled my car dealership claiming the car was in excellent condition upon delivery was quite obvious that the car had been in a accident unknown to me at the time of purchase come to find out vehicle is in a high speed crash that was never disclosed or threatening me who is financial exploitation offering a fraction of what I paid cash for and demanding that I do so within 72 hours have reported this to the attorney generals the FTC and a better Business bureau this type of abuse on senior citizens needs to stop they never disclose the facts currently waiting on outcome
Thank you FTC for all you do. May God bless you by granting you a 100% success rate in all your endeavors. 🛐
Thanks for sending me this most wanted information. It's very valuable to know that something like this does exists. I will take this to my advantage.
I have a question moreso than a comment. Is it possible to try to recover money in Apple Card Scam?
In reply to I have a question moreso… by Robbie Burnes
If you bought a gift card and gave someone the numbers off the back in a scam, use the gift card and your store receipt to report the scam to the gift card company and ask for your money back.
This FTC article has the contact number for Apple and tells what to do when you contact Apple: www.ftc.gov/giftcards.
this is exactly what happened to me only they went as far as creating on irs a ip pin acct
Amazon is a scam !
I believe I was scammed by a local dating service for $3600. They said I would have 3 dates that were my age 74 and would feel comfortable with. Instead I got 1 call and 2 texts that said they weren’t interested in me. It’s called Bentonville Dating Service. When I complained to them, they sent me a man who was allergic to my cats.
Vehicle theft targeting traveling out-of-state seniors and their important financial documents and account information and passports and other ID in Henderson, NV and Las Vegas, NV is being ignored by law enforcement there. It's a huge problem. Law enforcement says it's the other jurisdictions responsibility to follow up on this crime.
Will I reported identity theft and nothing happened someone's living it up getting student loans cars and other things in my name thanks To Equifax