American consumers lost $5.8 billion to fraud in 2021. Astounding as that is, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) says that most fraud victims never file a formal complaint, so the actual loss is undoubtedly higher.
Fraud comes in many forms, and anyone can fall victim to deceitful scammers. They prey on people's emotions and pressure their targets to "act fast or miss out."
Fraud is big business
According to FTC data, people between the ages of 20 and 39 were the most likely to have been scammed. The median loss for this group amounted to about $500.
People over 70 were the least likely to be scammed; however, this age group was impacted more, with the median loss between $800 and $1,500.
The best defense against unscrupulous scammers is understanding how they work. That is why the FTC joins forces with other government agencies and consumer groups to host National Consumer Protection Week - to teach the warning signs of a potential scam.
This year's educational event will be held March 5-11. Look online for coverage about wide-ranging topics from cryptocurrency hoaxes to Medicare fraud and how to identify and protect yourself from online scammers.
Your best defense
The top four scams of 2021 were identity theft, imposter scams, bogus debt relief, and fake business opportunities and investments. Each scam and scammer may be unique, but there are some general guidelines you can follow to protect yourself.
- If you receive a text message or an email from a stranger, don't open attachments or click on any links.
- Never give out personal information such as your social security number, Medicare, or credit card to callers. If a bank or creditor calls and asks you to confirm your identity, call them back on the legitimate phone number found on your billing statement.
- If you receive an offer that seems too good to be true, it probably is. For a second opinion, ask a trusted friend or relative to weigh in before you act.
- Beware of any person or business that requires payment in the form of gift cards, wire transfers, or cryptocurrency. Those forms of payment are especially damaging because they're impossible to trace or get back once you give them away.
If you have been or are a victim of a scam, report it to the FTC by filing an online complaint at ReportFraud.ftc.gov or calling 1-877-382-4357.
Moving to an Erickson Senior Living community represents a smart financial decision. To learn more about Erickson Senior Living, request a free brochure.