AARP Eye Center
Consumers reported losing a record-breaking $5.8 billion to fraud in 2021 for a 70 percent year-over-year increase, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) said in a new report.
The losses stemmed from a variety of schemes. The largest number hinged on impostors: crooks who stole money from people by posing as romantic interests, government employees, relatives in distress, tech-support experts or others, such as representatives of businesses or charities.
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There were almost 1 million impostor scams among the nearly 2.8 million frauds reported in 2021 to the FTC’s Consumer Sentinel Network.
Impostor fraud losses skyrocketed to $2.3 billion in 2021, up from $1.2 billion in 2020.
Median Fraud Loss By Age, 2021
The Consumer Sentinel Network takes reports from law enforcement, consumer-protection agencies and partners including AARP’s Fraud Watch Network. The reports fall into three buckets: fraud; identity theft; and other consumer complaints that run the gamut from defective appliances to predatory lending.
Other top frauds
Zeroing in on other frauds, the FTC said that after impostor scams, the top four most common complaints received involved online shopping; prizes, sweepstakes and lotteries; internet services; and business and job opportunities.
Consumers reported about $392 million in losses from online shopping in 2021, up from $246 million a year earlier.
When consumers who reported fraud — regardless of whether they suffered a financial hit — indicated how they were contacted, most often they said it was by phone. Fraudsters also used, in descending order: texts; emails; websites or apps; social media sites; other unspecified methods; the mail; and online ads or pop-ups. The takeaway for consumers is to never let your guard down, however a stranger reaches out.