Retirees Biggest Losers to Phone and Cyber Scams

John Lister's picture

Millennials are much more likely to be scammed out of money online or over the phone than retirees according to FTC figures. However, an elderly victim is likely to lose a much bigger sum.

The figures come from analysis of Federal Trade Commission (FTC) data by Atlas VPN. They found that in almost every age group, more people have been scammed so far this year than in the same period last year, but the average loss is lower. That could simply be scammers making smaller demands because they know many people have less disposable cash this year. (Source:

Elderly Targeted By Phone

According to the FTC data, those aged 30-39 had the highest rate of victims at 99.37 per 100,000 people. Those aged 20-29 had the second highest rate (94.19 per 100,000) but otherwise the rates fell consistently as the age brackets increased. The lowest rate was for those aged 80 and over at 38.46 per 100,000.

For all age brackets up to 69, online fraud was the most common method. For those aged 70-79 and 80 and over, phone scams were most prevalent.

Despite younger people being more likely to fall victim, the figures also show why law enforcement authorities are particularly concerned about phone and online scams targeting the elderly. The average loss among those aged 80 and over was $1,200. That's double the amount for those in their seventies and nearly six time the amount for those in their thirties.

Fraud Reports Help Education

Perhaps the most likely explanations for these patterns is that younger people spend more time online and thus simply have more opportunities to be exposed to fraud attempts. Older people may spend less time online and are targeted less often, however, they are also more vulnerable to high-value scams or simply have more money available to lose if they do fall victim.

The data is informed partly by the FTC's fraud reporting site at Here anyone can report an attempted scam or fraud. The details go on to a national "Consumer Sentinel" database accessible by more than 2,500 federal, state and local law enforcement bodies. (Source:

As well as trying to crack down on specific scammers, the database helps the FTC spot trends in cyber and phone scams and educate the public on specific emerging risks and techniques.

What's Your Opinion?

Are you surprised by the figures? Should we be concerned about the rise in the number of victims? Would you report a scam to the FTC if you were a victim?

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aquaman100_2510's picture

I'm 73 and keep getting calls from "Service Canada" threatening me almost everyday to pay-up or loose everything. I wish I could block these guys but they are calling from different spoofed phones in my area code each time.
Plus I'm getting calls from the "IRS" telling me that they will on my doorstep in hours if I don't pay-up. I just asked them when they are coming because the Canada-US border is closed and if they were allowed they would have to isolate few 2 weeks or get arrested so buzz off thieves.

Schlinger's picture

The best response to phone scammers who demand immediate payment to the IRS or other organizations such as banks or credit card operators, most of whom never make demands by telephone, is to humbly agree with their claims and request a bill sent to you by mail. NEVER volunteer your address. If the IRS doesn't know your address you know where you can tell the scammer to send the threat to where the sun don't shine!! If they DO know your address and actually send you a fraudulent bill, you can report this to your State Attorney General and the USPS, both of whom don't take kindly to mail fraud and probably won't hesitate to prosecute. Be sure to save any written correspondence as evidence.