Of the 1.4 million fraud reports, 25% indicated money was lost. In 2018, people reported losing nearly $1.48 billion to fraud – an increase of $406 million over what consumers reported losing in 2017.
The median loss for all fraud reports in 2018 is $375. The median individual losses were highest in the fraud categories of mortgage foreclosure relief and debt management ($1,377); business and job opportunities ($1,304); and foreign money offers and counterfeit check scams ($1,214).
The leading type of fraud—imposter scams—include, for example, romance scams; a relative in distress; people falsely claiming to be a technical support expert—or people claiming to be with the government or a well-known business.
Debt collection complaints dropped to the number two spot after topping the FTC’s list of consumer complaints for the previous three years.
Identity theft was the third most common complaint, and consistently ranks among the top consumer complaints made to the FTC. Credit card fraud tops the list of identity theft reports in 2018, with a 24 percent increase over 2017. The FTC received more than 167,000 reports from people who said their information was misused on an existing account or to open a new credit card account.

Advertisement

The top 10 states in 2018 reporting fraud and other consumer issues were Florida, Georgia, Nevada, Delaware, Tennessee, Maryland, Arizona, Texas, South Carolina, and Michigan.
Consumers were least likely to be the victims of fraud in Nebraska, Vermont, Iowa, South Dakota, and North Dakota.
Telephone was the method of contact for 69% of fraud reports with a contact method identified. Only 8% of those people reported losing money to the scammer – but that 8% reported an aggregate loss of $429 million and an $840 median loss.
Wire transfers continue to be the most frequently reported payment method for fraud, with a reported aggregate loss of $423 million. Credit cards were the second most widely reported form of payment for fraud. In 2018, however, a growing number of consumers reported that scammers demanded to be paid with gift and reload cards. The number of consumers who said they paid with a gift or reload card grew from over 28,000 in 2017 to more than 41,000 in 2018, while the total amount paid using a gift or reload card to scammers nearly doubled to $78 million.
More consumers in their twenties who reported fraud said they lost money (43 percent) compared with those in their seventies (15 percent). Yet when those in their seventies reported losing money to fraud, the median amount they lost was much larger ($750), compared with those in their twenties ($400).

Advertisement

For the first time, the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC’s) Consumer Sentinel Network Data Book, 2018 has identified imposter scams as the top consumer fraud complaint received in 2018. The driving factor beyond the growth of imposter scams is an increase in fraudsters falsely claiming to be from a government agency, such as the Internal Revenue Service or Social Security Administration.

In all, the FTC received nearly three million complaints from consumers in 2018. Consumers reported losing nearly $1.48 billion to fraud in 2018 — 38% more than the year before. Consumers reported losing a total of nearly $488 million to all types of imposter scams in 2018 — more than any other type of fraud — and reported a median loss of $500. The FTC also found that Florida had more fraudulent claims than any other state.

“Florida is densely packed with potentially high-value fraud targets,” explains Jim Quiggle, director of communications for the Coalition Against Insurance Fraud. “It has a large population of retirees. Their age, seeming vulnerability and built-up financial assets attract con artists who perceive the seniors as easy marks for insurance and other schemes. Florida also has millions of new immigrants who need incomes. Most are honest, though some are recruited into health scams, staged crashes and other cons.”

Government imposter scams made up nearly half of the 535,417 imposter scam reports to the FTC in 2018. A typical government imposter scam involves fraudsters who falsely claimed to be from the Social Security Administration. These scammers typically tell people their Social Security number has been suspended, or that there is some other problem in an effort to get them to reveal their Social Security number or pay money to “reactivate” it. In reality, Social Security numbers are never suspended and the Social Security Administration will never require a person to pay to obtain one.

“Imposter scams are so popular because they can steal devastatingly large amounts of money from trusting consumers in a short time,” adds Quiggle. “It’s relatively easy to spoof Medicare, the IRS, tech support or others — at high volume and low cost. Imposter scams can intimidate and frighten people into paying up. Seemingly real demands for money by urgent-sounding phone calls or emails can insist a consumer take fast action or face serious consequences.”

The FTC produces the Consumer Sentinel Network Data Book annually using reports received by the Consumer Sentinel Network. These include reports made directly by consumers to the FTC, as well as reports received by state and federal law enforcement agencies, national consumer protection organizations, and nongovernmental organizations.

See also: