2018’s Top Consumer Frauds

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The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) received nearly 3 million reports of fraud, identity theft and other scams in 2018. The year’s total dollar loss from fraud came to $1.48 billion, and the median loss per reported incident of fraud was $375.

The incidence of fraud rose last year, from 1.29 million in 2017 to 1.43 million, and the total dollar loss ($1.08 billion in 2017) rose by 37%. The median loss of $410 per reported incident was actually greater in 2017.

Imposter scams, where someone pretends to be a person you can trust so that you’ll send them money, trailed behind fraud as the second most-complained about scam. The FTC warns consumers against imposters posing as IRS officials, tech support specialists and the ever-popular online romance scams.

Interestingly, the FTC reports that young people report losing money to fraudsters more often than do older people. In 2018, 43% of fraud reports that included the complainant’s age came from Americans in their 20s and just 15% came from people in their 70s.

The bad news for older victims is that they lost more money than their younger counterparts. The median loss for people in their 70s was $751, compared to a median loss of $400 for people in their 20s. People in their 80s posted a median loss of $1,700.

Florida suffered from the most cases of fraud and other scams last year: more than 210,000 reported cases, slightly more than 1% of the state’s entire population. Georgia, Nevada and Tennessee ranked second through fourth for the number of scams reported.

The incident category with the second-highest number of fraud reports to the FTC was debt collection scams. In these cases, the scammer tries to collect on a loan the victim never received or one that a victim may have received but on which they now owe a different amount. Nationwide, the FTC received more than 475,000 reports of debt collection scams last year.

Identity theft occurs when someone gets personal information about you (your Social Security number or a credit card number, for example) and uses that information to spend money in your name. Last year the most often-reported type of identity theft was misusing someone’s personal information to open a new credit card account, rising by 24% year over year

Reports of identity theft ranked third in number last year with nearly 445,000 reports from consumers to the FTC. The numbers were highest in Georgia, Nevada and California.

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