Article originally published in the Enfield Press
More younger people reported losing money to fraud in 2017 than older people. However, when people aged 70 and older had a loss, it was a much higher median loss than other groups, reports the FTC (Federal Trade Commission). The commission has just released a communication with the most practiced scams from last year and how it affects different groups.
The top fraud last year was “Imposter Scams,” in which the fraudsters are not who they say they are, and ask for your money. They pretend to be a loved one in trouble, a government official, tech support, or someone else, usually over the phone. Nearly 350,000 people reported receiving this type of contact, and almost 1 in 5 of them lost money – a whopping $328 million in total.
The FTC received information about scams attempts from nearly 2.7 million people last year. There were fewer “debt collection” scam reports in 2017 (23% of all reports), but it’s still the top category by a wide margin, followed by identity theft (14%), which overtook “imposter scams” (13%) for the number two slot in 2017. Although less numerous, the imposter scams are the most harmful fraud for the victims, accounting for around 38% of the money lost.
For everyone who reported identity theft, credit card fraud tops the list and continues to grow. Reports of tax fraud are down 46%, but it was still reported by nearly 63,000 people.
Of the more than 1.1 million people who reported fraud, 21% told the FTC that they lost a total of more than $905 million. That’s an increase of $63 million from 2016.
Senior Safety: Telephone Scams
People reported that scammers mostly contacted them by phone, and they mostly paid for frauds by wire transfer, like in previous years. However, $74 million in losses were paid by credit cards, which are charges that could potentially be disputed and recovered, if done in time.
For all fraud reports in 2017, the median loss was $429. In the case of imposters, the median was higher, of around $500. When scams came in by phone, the median loss increases to $720. A scam involving travel, vacation, and timeshares, although not very frequent, accounted for a median loss of $1,710.
Another aspect disclosed by the FTC is that military members lose more money to scammers consumers than the general population. Their median loss was of $619.
If you have spotted any scams or receive those calls soliciting money, you should inform the FTC for all the good that does. It will help them to fight against the scammers, when possible.
Many times the fraudsters are based in another country, and there is not much that federal authorities can do to punish or get the victim’s money back. However, they may find ways to block the fraudsters and prevent other people from losing money. Finally, they will use the information you provide to spread the word and keep people alert about what is going on.
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