The Myth About Scams and Age

When we hear stories about scams and fraud, we often hear that older people are more likely to be victims of scams – the “grandparent scam,” in which someone impersonates a relative in trouble, and asks you send them money.

By Catherine Blinder

Or the “warranty scam,” in which someone calls and tells you your car warranty is expiring, and you must do something soon! Or the “computer update scam,” in which you are told you are in danger of exposing personal data if they don’t “update” you – only to find that it is the caller who is going to steal your data! Or the lottery, prize, or raffle scams. These scams are especially costly to people 80 and over – about one out of every three dollars reported lost to fraud by this age group in 2021 was lost to prize, sweepstakes, and lottery scams.

Yes, those are scammers that do indeed prey on older adults.

But there are scams and frauds that are more likely to target younger people too. In fact, research shows that many scams are harming younger people as well. 

The FTC reports that in 2021, Gen Xers, Millennials, and Gen Z young adults (ages 18-59) were 34% more likely than older adults (ages 60 and over) to report losing money to fraud, and some types of fraud stood out. Younger adults reported losses to online shopping fraud – which often started with an ad on social media – far more often than any other fraud type, and most said they simply did not get the items they ordered. Younger adults were over four times more likely than older adults to report a loss on an investment scam. Most of these were false cryptocurrency investment opportunities. And this age group reported losing money on job scams at more than five times the rate of older adults. Many college students reported that they were scammed after getting a message at their student email address about a so-called job opportunity. The median individual reported fraud loss by people 18-59 was $500 in 2021.

The median reported loss for people 70-79 was $800., and $1,500 for those 80 and over. But older adults were also much more likely to report fraud – but avoided losing any money to – than people 18-59. 

Reports also point to generational differences in how scammers reach people. On social media, the differences are striking: in 2021, 31% of people 18-59 who reported losing money on a scam said it started on a social media platform; compare that to 15% of people 60 and older. For Gen Z young adults and younger Millennials (ages 18-29), reports suggest social media plays an even larger role – nearly 40% of 2021 fraud loss reports by this age group were to frauds originating on social media. 

Scams that start with a phone call also show big age differences: in 2021, 24% of older adults who reported losing money to a scam said it started with a phone call, compared to just 10% of younger consumers. 

We need to understand that scammers can target anybody, at any age. By staying vigilant and careful, and telling family and friends, we can avoid losing money to the “bad guys”! 

And as always, if you suspect you have been scammed, contact DCP at:

This article was written by Catherine Blinder, chief education, and outreach officer of the Department of Consumer Protection of the State of Connecticut. To learn more about how the Department of Consumer Protection can help, visit us at