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NextGen Magazine


FTC: Younger Adults Likelier Victims of Many Scams

S.J. Steinhardt
Published Date:
Feb 3, 2023

While everyone is susceptible to scams, recent victims of many scams have been disproportionately younger, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) reported in a recent Data Spotlight. The FTC noted that, despite common perceptions, "reports suggest that many scams are harming younger people more than older adults."

Those between the ages of 18 and 59 were 34 percent more likely to report losing money to fraud than those aged 60 and older, according to the report, “Who experiences scams? A story for all ages.”

Certain types of fraud were more prevalent than others among this younger age group, such as losses to online shopping fraud, often starting with social media ads, or investment scams, predominantly those involving false cryptocurrency investment opportunities. Younger adults were more than four times more likely to report a loss on an investment scam. That group, including college students, reported losing money on job scams at more than five times the rate of older adults.

The median individual reported fraud loss by people in the 18 to 59 age group was $500 in 2021.

While older adults were less likely to report losing money to fraud, the median reported loss for those between 70 and 79 was $800, and the median reported loss for those 80 and older was $1,500. But older adults were much more likely to report fraud they had spotted or encountered, but to which they avoided losing any money, than the 18 to 59 age group. The older group was about five times more likely to report losing money on tech support scams than younger adults.

The contact methods that scammers used also varied by age group. In 2021, 31 percent of people 18-59 who reported losing money on a scam said it started on a social media platform. For those ages 18-29, it was 40 percent. In contrast, only 15 percent of people 60 and over said a scam began on social media. Scams starting with phone calls skewed the other way. In 2021, 24 percent of older adults who reported losing money to a scam said it started with a phone call, and it was 40 percent for those 80 and over. For younger people, it was just 10 percent..

To alert younger adults to the signs of scams, The Washington Post listed seven common red flags:

1. The promised return is extraordinary.
2. A high return is pitched as low risk.
3. The investment details are a secret.
4. The investment is being promoted by people the investor trusts.
5. The investor is offered a bonus to sign up friends.
6. There are testimonials about big payouts.
7. The promoter gets angry at too many questions.