Personal finance

Consumers lost $5.8 billion to fraud last year — up 70% over 2020

krisanapong detraphiphat | Moment | Getty Images

American consumers reported losing more than $5.8 billion to fraud last year, up from $3.4 billion in 2020 (an increase of more than 70%), the Federal Trade Commission said Tuesday.

Almost 2.8 million consumers filed a fraud report to the agency in 2021 — the highest number on record dating back to 2001, according to the FTC. About 25% of those scams led to a financial loss, with the typical person losing $500.

The true toll is almost certainly higher since some incidents likely weren’t reported to the agency.

More from Personal Finance:
Parents face a surprise tax bill if kids are trading stocks
Going abroad? What it’s like to self-test for your flight home
How to keep emotions out of your investment decisions

Those figures also don’t include reports of identity theft and other categories. More than 1.4 million Americans also reported being a victim of identity theft in 2021; another 1.5 million filed complaints related to “other” categories (including credit reporting companies failing to investigate disputed information, or debt collectors falsely representing the amount or status of debt). Both sums are annual records, according to the FTC.

Fraud has ballooned during the Covid-19 pandemic, as con artists have preyed on consumer fear and confusion. They peddled fake health products (like hand sanitizer and masks) and used stolen data to file for unemployment and other benefits in victims’ names, for example.

Imposter scams were the most prevalent form of fraud in 2021, accounting for more than a third of reports, the FTC said. The typical victim lost $1,000.

In such scams, criminals pretend to be someone else to steal money or sensitive personal information. They may include romance scams, as well as people falsely claiming to be a government official, a relative in distress, a well-known business or a technical support expert, for example, according to the FTC.

However, other forms of fraud were costlier on a per-person basis — investment fraud cost $3,000 per victim in 2021, for example, the largest such sum. Business and job-opportunity scams cost the typical victim almost $2,000.

Younger Americans tended to be fraud targets most frequently, but those over age 70 reported losing more money. The typical person over age 80 lost $1,500, triple that of those in their 20s.   

Products You May Like

Articles You May Like

First Republic shares slid almost 33% after deposit infusion, dragging down other regional banks
Geely shares jump after automaker beats revenue expectations for 2022
Mortgage giant Fannie Mae tackles climate risk, but changes to underwriting may take several years
Icahn proposes three candidates for Illumina’s board — Here’s what could be next in the battle
Home sales spike 14.5% in February as the median price drops for the first time in over a decade

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *