FTC: 1 in 10 adults are fraud victims
More than 26 million Americans were scammed in 2011, falling victim to dubious offers like weight-loss products that do nothing and non-existent mortgage relief.
It seems that around just about every corner is another scam. And a recently released survey by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission shows that really is the case.
More than one in 10 adults -- some 26.5 million Americans -- were victims of fraud in 2011, the new study found.
The most likely place to become a fraud victim these days should come as no surprise. It's right here, online. Internet-based scams -- those accelerated by email, social media, online auctions and online classified ads -- topped the list.
The top 10 most commonly reported frauds and the estimated number of victims, according to the survey, include:
- Weight-loss Products (5.1 million)
- Prize Promotions (2.4 million)
- Unauthorized Billing for Buyers’ Club Memberships (1.9 million)
- Unauthorized Billing for Internet Services (1.9 million)
- Work-at-Home Programs (1.8 million)
- Credit Repair Scams (1.7 million)
- Debt Relief (1.5 million)
- Credit Card Insurance (1.3 million)
- Business Opportunities (1.1 million)
- Mortgage Relief Scams (800,000)
Fraud was not an equal opportunity crime. African Americans (17.3%) and Hispanics (13.4%) were more likely than non-Hispanic whites (9%) to be victimized, the survey found. In addition, those with less than a high school education were more vulnerable as were "consumers who were more willing to take risks and those who had recently experienced a negative life event." Negative life events include such things as divorce, death of a loved one and job loss.
This is the third time the FTC has released a fraud survey report. Previous reports were issued in 2004 and 2007.
Here are some tips from the FTC about avoiding online scams:
- Be clear who you are really doing business with, and try to determine their track record of dealing with others.
- Be wary of anyone you don't know who asks you to wire money. Wire transfers are the same as using case and it's next to impossible to recover money sent that way.
- Stay on top of your monthly statements and look for charges you didn't authorize.
- Use skepticism when someone claims you can earn a lot of money in an investment that is virtually a sure-thing.
- Don't send someone money so that you can collect a prize, contest award or any other benefit that will supposedly come later.
- Never send your personal or financial information to someone, or some company, that has emailed you, even if it looks legitimate. If the request comes from an entity you do business with, contact them at a number that you have, independent of what is in the email.
More from MSN Money:
- Cellphone cramming charges filed
- Cost of car ownership rising
- Warning issued over Boston Marathon scams
- Goodnighties told to tone down claims
- Prepaid cards fraught with fees
- Car repair costs on the rise
what the **** is "case"?
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