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Scams That Target Older Americans

Find out if you're more at risk based on your age

Top Scams Targeting Older Americans


Those ages 45 to 54 were most likely to be victimized by “phishing” or online communications that pretend to be from a trusted source.

Americans really are getting older and wiser, according to a new report from the Better Business Bureau: Those over 45 were far less likely to fall victim to scam artists than people in their 20s and 30s. But when older people do get taken in, their losses tend to be more substantial — and there are distinct generational patterns to the kinds of scams people are most susceptible to.

Those were some key findings in the 2016 BBB Scam Tracker Annual Risk Report, which also calculated the top three scams by age range, based on data collected from more than 2,000 survey respondents as well as consumer reports to the BBB.

Those 65 and older were most likely to be targeted for scams involving a relative who supposedly needed emergency cash. They were also most susceptible to scams involving fake lottery winnings and “free” vacations.

Home improvement scams topped the list for those ages 55-64, along with vacation offers and scams involving “accidental” overpayments, designed to detect the victim’s bank account number. Those ages 45 to 54 were the most likely to be victimized by “phishing” — online communications that pretend to be from a trusted source in order to get the victim’s passwords — as well as home improvement scams and advance fee loan frauds.

Older people are less frequently fooled, but when they are they lose the most money: a median loss of $390, compared to $200 for those ages 18-24.

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