- In 2022, people over the age of 60 lost a combined total of $3.1B to fraudsters and other criminals, the highest amount recorded by far.
- 103,000 crimes (across 30 categories) were reported and almost 60% of them (accounting for 12 out of the 30 categories) were likely facilitated or made worse by criminals having access to people’s personal data.
- Investment scams, a data-enabled crime, affected 4,700 elders in 2022, contributing the loss of almost $1B ($990M) to criminals.
- Investment scams were the fastest-growing type of elder fraud after cryptocurrency scams.
- Researchers found almost 8,000 people over 60 years old who were affected by a personal data breach.
- California was the most affected state, with the average victim losing over $54,000.
- Since 2020, the numbers of reported victims have been dropping slightly year-on-year, but total losses have continued to skyrocket regardless.
As information technology advances at a rapid pace, senior citizens are finding themselves increasingly vulnerable to a wave of cybercrimes, especially those involving phishing and fraud.
Despite improvements in digital literacy among the elderly, their limited data security knowledge makes them easy targets for criminals exploiting personal information.
In the latest study conducted by Incogni, it has been revealed that crimes targeting people over 60 have reached alarming levels, with a total loss of $3.1 billion in 2022 alone.
More concerning is the fact that almost 60% of these crimes were facilitated or exacerbated by criminals having access to victims’ personal data.
The research highlights that 12 out of 30 identified crime types, including identity fraud, depend on the availability of victims’ personal information.
Some crimes captured under the elder fraud umbrella, like identity fraud, depend entirely on such data availability.
Key findings from Incogni’s research shed light on the severity of the issue. Investment scams emerged as a significant threat, leading to nearly $1 billion in losses in 2022.
Criminals exploit victims’ income, savings, and asset information, making these scams highly successful and financially devastating for the elderly population.
Tech support scams affected 18,000 individuals over 60 in 2022, highlighting the vulnerability of older adults when it comes to modern technologies.
These scams resulted in total losses of $590 million, emphasizing the urgent need for enhanced digital security measures.
Business Email Compromise (BEC), primarily targeting businesses, also impacted individuals over 60, causing $477 million in losses.
This indicates that older individuals in positions of authority or entrepreneurship are particularly at risk due to their business-related online activities.
Confidence and romance scams, on the other hand, were exacerbated by the loneliness that older individuals too often experience, underlining the need for increased awareness and protection.
These types of scams led to losses of $420 million in 2022, affecting 7,200 elders.
Incogni’s previous study revealed that Americans may benefit significantly from data protection laws, such as the California Consumer Protection Act (CCPA), which restrict the activities of data brokers and might mitigate the risks associated with elder fraud crimes.
“Protecting senior citizens from the rising tide of elder fraud crimes enabled by personal data vulnerabilities is extremely important today – said Darius Belejevas, Head of Incogni. – We encourage lawmakers, businesses, and individuals to come together and implement effective data protection measures to safeguard the elderly population from these harmful scams”.
Incogni’s researchers examined the Annual Reports and Elder Fraud Reports published by the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3), a division of the FBI, investigating numbers regarding internet crimes against people over 60.
This information was collected from people reporting such crimes to the IC3. The researchers aggregated yearly losses and victim counts per crime type from these reports with additional supplementation with 2022 data concerning state-level information.
Using the information gathered, Incogni’s researchers explored trends in victim counts and amounts lost per crime type.
They noted crimes exacerbated by private information being made available through data brokers, people search sites and other sources.