Americans are preyed upon. They either do not protect their own interests or the government does not do enough to prevent fraud and identify theft.
Clever criminals have ways to stay ahead of their victims’ defenses. The computer has become one of the main sources of fraud against consumers. Companies like online protection software operations McAfee and Symantec would not have businesses otherwise. Consumer activists would not harass social media sites like Facebook and Twitter about their unwillingness to guard the identity of their users.
24/7 Wall St. reviewed information from the Federal Trade Commission about fraud and identify theft data that it publishes it in the Consumer Sentinel Network Data Book. According to the CSN, more than 1.3 million consumer fraud claims were filed in 2010. Of the 27 categories, fraud related to identity theft, debt collection, Internet services and lotteries are the most prevalent. Consumers reported losing more than $1.7 billion in those complaints. The average amount lost was $594. “Eighty-six percent of the consumers who reported a fraud-related complaint also reported” that they lost money, according to the report. In other words, Americans were victimized but were not sure what it cost them.
Consumer complaints vary widely by state. 24/7 picked the ten states with the largest percentage of total complaints per 100,000 people. States with large retirement populations were high on the list although the government does not acknowledge this or give any reason it should be so.
24/7 Wall St. also analyzed what type of fraud was most prevalent in the most fraud-ridden states. Some areas have out-sized trouble with lotteries. Others have problems with fraud related to personal government documents and debt collection. The government also does a poor job of explaining the differences in these trends from state to state.