Written By ESR News Blog Editor Thomas Ahearn
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) – a primary federal privacy and data security enforcement agency – has released the 2017 Consumer Sentinel Network Data Book that found the number of consumer complaints about fraud dropped in 2017 while the amount of money lost was more than in 2016.
The 2017 data book includes complaints from 2.68 million consumers, down from 2016 when 2.98 million consumers submitted reports about fraud, identity theft, and other types of consumer concerns. Still, consumers reported losing a total of $905 million to fraud in 2017, $63 million more than in 2016.
“While we received fewer overall complaints in 2017, consumers reported losing more money to fraud than they did the year before,” Tom Pahl, Acting Director of the FTC Bureau of Consumer Protection, stated in a press release while underscoring the importance of the FTC working to educate consumers.
Debt collection remained the top consumer complaint category, making up approximately 23 percent of all complaints although declining between 2016 and 2017. The high number of debt collection reports was due in part to reports submitted by a data contributor who collects complaints via a mobile app.
Identity theft was the second biggest category and made up nearly 14 percent of all the consumer complaints. Credit card fraud was the most common type of identity theft reported by consumers. Tax fraud was the second most common type of identity theft despite falling by 46 percent from 2016.
Imposter scams – which involve someone pretending to be someone else in order to get consumers to give them money – were the third most common consumer complaint as consumers reported losing substantially more money to imposter scams – a total of $328 million – than any other type of fraud.
The 2017 data book also includes – for the first time – details on fraud losses broken out by age groups. Consumers in their twenties reported losing money to fraud more often than those over age 70. For example, among people aged 20-29 who reported fraud, 40 percent indicated they lost money.
In comparison, only 18 percent of consumers 70 and older who reported fraud indicated they lost any money, but when they did report losing money to a scammer, the median amount lost was greater. The median reported loss for people age 80 and older was $1,092 compared to $400 for those aged 20-29.
The FTC produces the Consumer Sentinel Network Data Book annually using reports received by the Consumer Sentinel Network. This year the FTC has developed a mini-site to make the information in the 2017 data book more accessible to the public that is available at www.ftc.gov/sentinel2017.
More Information about Fraud
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