On October 18, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) issued a report to Congress in which it outlined its ongoing efforts to protect older Americans from fraud related losses.

In the report, entitled Protecting Older Consumers, the FTC describes the trends it has discerned based on fraud reports submitted by adults aged 60 and over. This demographic reported losing more than $1.6 billion to fraud in 2022. But because the vast majority of frauds are not reported, this figure represents only a fraction of the overall cost, which the FTC estimates to be as high as $48 billion.

Older Americans filed more reports concerning online fraud — scams involving social media, the web, or online ads — than any other demographic. But notably, the largest number of frauds targeting older consumers were initiated through telephone calls.

One rapidly growing area involved tech support scams, the reporting of which increased by 117% since 2021. The FTC found that older adults are more than six times as likely as adults aged 18 to 59 to report losing money to such a scam, which often involves companies tricking consumers into buying computer repair or technical services by deceptively claiming that their software had found malware symptoms on the consumers’ computers.

The report also highlights the FTC’s prevention efforts. These include enforcement actions targeting entities that prey on older consumers and law enforcement partnerships in which the FTC works with other federal agencies and state and local authorities to take action to protect older consumers. The FTC also engages in education and outreach programs such as the Pass it On campaign, which focuses on providing fraud prevention information and materials to older adults.