The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is where scams in the U.S. are reported and investigated, and with any luck resolved. Back in 2014, the FTC launched Pass it On based on a pair of simple truths:
• Most older adults are active and engaged in their communities; and
• Sharing what you know can help protect others in your community.
This approach is working – far from being the vulnerable victims that most people perceive older Americans to be, the FTC reports that:
• Older adults are the least likely of any age group to report losing money to scams.
• Consumers who are 60 and better spot and reported fraud before losing money at nearly twice the rate of people between 20 and 59.
That said, the scams that do gain the greatest traction for those 60 and better are phone scams. This type of fraud includes tax and benefits schemes – targeting those aspects of people’s lives where individuals feel they have little control and so are more likely to respond to phone communications. Government imposters ranked second in the November 2020 FTC list of most damaging scams against those 60 and better. The Better Business Bureau Scam Tracker reports that bogus tax collection came second in their online survey in 2019. In tax-related identity theft, stolen Social Security numbers may be used to get a tax refund or a job. Thieves posting as members of the Social Security Administration (SSA) hit record levels, up 30% in 2020. The Area Agency on Aging wrote about another government imposter scam – Medicare fraud – in the March 4th Pagosa SUN (Volume 113 – No 24).
What Can You Do?
Here at tax-time, you can foster awareness. Your experience, expertise, and trusted place in our community serve as a force for good against scammers. If you’re interested in learning more about stopping scams, you can download the free, no-registration-required FINRA report “Exposed to Scams: What Separates Victims from Non-Victims.”
You can learn more about The Community Café, take out and Meals on Wheels reservations, and other ASI programs on our website: http://www.psseniors.org/.