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Weekly Column: Raising Awareness About Fraud Targeting Seniors

Guest column submitted by U.S. Senator Mike Crapo

The FBI reported in 2023 seniors lost $3.4 billion, an 11 percent increase in reported losses from 2022, through an ever-growing array of scams targeting the nation’s senior population.  I co-sponsored a Senate Resolution the Senate unanimously passed to help increase awareness and support efforts to combat fraud targeting seniors.

The Idaho Department of Finance, among others, have been helping to educate Idaho’s seniors and caregivers about how to prevent, identify and report financial crimes and abuse.  The Idaho Office of the Attorney General also provides a Consumer Protection for Older Adults manual, which can be found here, that contains useful tips for how to protect yourself from consumer fraud and where to turn for help if fraud occurs.  The manual includes six warning signs of a scam that include: scammers contact you unexpectedly and pressure you to act quickly; ask for personal information; demand payment in ways impossible to recover (gift cards, cryptocurrency or payments through apps); urge secrecy; and try to trick people with things too good or too bad to be true (winning the lottery or pending arrest).

The FBI warns some of the most common scams affecting older Americans include criminals posing as romantic partners through dating websites; fraudulent technical support enabling remote access into victim’s devices; scammers convincing victims to convert large sums of money into cryptocurrency; and investment scams.  Knowing what to do if you suspect you have been targeted is vital, and the FBI has the following recommendations:

  • End all communication with the scammer;
  • Search online for the contact information and the proposed offer, as others have likely posted information about the scams;
  • Resist the pressure to act quickly, and call the police immediately if you feel there is a danger to yourself or loved ones;
  • Be cautious of unsolicited phone calls, mailings and door-to-door services offers;
  • Never give or send any personally identifiable information, money, jewelry, gift cards, checks, or wire information to unverified people or businesses;
  • Make sure all computer anti-virus security software and malware protections are up to date;
  • Disconnect from the Internet and shut down your device if you see a pop-up message or locked screen;
  • Enable pop-up blockers to avoid accidentally clicking on a popup;
  • Be careful what you download, never open an e-mail attachment from someone you do not know and be wary of e-mail attachments forwarded to you;
  • Take precautions to protect your identity if a criminal gains access to your device or account, including contacting your financial institutions immediately to replace protections on your accounts and monitor your accounts and personal information for suspicious activity.

As recognized in the Senate resolution, “Senior fraud is underreported by victims due to shame, stigma, and lack of information about where to report.”  The Idaho Attorney General recommends the following when suggesting where to report scams:

  • Local Police (if you lost money to a scammer).
  • The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) protects consumers from unfair and deceptive acts and practices, and the FTC is also where you can also report lost personal information that can result in identity theft.  You can report fraud online (at or by calling (877) 382-4357, and identity theft through the FTC’s dedicated website (at or by calling (877) 438-4338.
  • The FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3): internet crime can be reported to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center website (at
  • United States Postal Inspection Service: scams and fraud that happen through the mail can be reported online (at to the U.S. Postal Inspection Service or by calling (877) 876-2455.

The Attorney General’s office notes about reporting scams, “It’s important to report it.  Please don’t be embarrassed.  Scammers are very good at what they do and know how to convince someone that what they are saying is true.”  

Thank you to everyone who works tirelessly to fight scams targeting seniors.  By raising awareness about scams targeting seniors, we can hopefully decrease fraudsters’ ability to create more victims. 

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