The top frauds of 2017

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The numbers are in, the counts have been made, and today the FTC announced what we heard from you during 2017. Here are some highlights:

  • This year’s top fraud is again Imposter Scams, with nearly 350,000 reports. Nearly 1 in 5 people who reported an imposter scam lost money – a whopping $328 million lost to someone pretending to be a loved one in trouble, a government official, tech support, or someone else who’s not who they say they are, but who wants your money.
  • We heard from nearly 2.7 million people last year. There were fewer debt collection reports in 2017 (23% of all reports), but it’s still the top category by a wide margin, followed by identity theft (14%), which overtook imposter scams (13%) for the number two slot in 2017.
  • For everyone who reported identity theft, credit card fraud tops the list, and continues to grow. Reports of tax fraud are down 46%, but it was still reported by nearly 63,000 people.
  • Of the more than 1.1 million people who reported fraud, 21% told us they lost a total of more than $905 million. That’s an increase of $63 million from 2016.
  • People reported that scammers mostly contacted them by phone, and they mostly paid for frauds – once again – by wire transfer. But check out the $74 million in losses on credit cards, which are charges that could potentially be disputed and recovered, if done in time.
  • Median losses tell an interesting story: for all fraud reports in 2017, the median loss was $429. Compare that to a $500 median loss to imposters, a $720 median fraud loss to scams that come in by phone, a $1,710 median loss related to travel, vacations and timeshares. Among military consumers, median losses were higher than the general population -- $619.
  • More younger people reported losing money to fraud than older people – but when people aged 70 and older had a loss, it was a much higher median loss than other groups.
  • And, based on reports per 100,000 population, the top states for fraud reports were Florida, Georgia and Nevada. For identity theft, it’s Michigan, Florida and California.

Have you spotted any scams? If so, tell the FTC – and then come back this time next year to hear what happened during 2018.

Consumer Sentinel Network Data Book 2017 Snapshot.  2.7 million reports. Top three categories:  1.	Debt collection 2.	Identity theft 3.	Imposter scams  Of 1.1 million fraud reports, 21% reported a loss. $905 million total fraud losses; $429 median loss.  Younger people reported losing money to fraud more often than older people.  40% of reports from people age 20-29 reported a loss; 18% of reports from people age 70+ reported a loss.  But when people aged 70+ had a loss, the median loss was much higher. Median loss $400 for age 20-29; median loss $621 for age 70-79; median loss $1,092 for age 80+.  Imposter scam reports: 1 in 5 people lost money to a reported imposter scam. $328 million reported lost; $500 median loss.  Identity theft reports: Credit card fraud increased 23% from 2016. Tax fraud decreased 46% from 2016.  Federal Trade Commission. ftc.gov/sentinel2017

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Comments

I get 2-3 scam calls a day, all of which I report to the FCC for all the good that does. My 86-year old Mom used to get 5 a day, mostly from Indian call centers or spoofed caller IDs that were typically routed to some Indian scammer. I enrolled her in NoMoRobo and her call volume instantly dropped 95-98%. The FCC and the FTC could easily reduce the volume of scammers and phone fraudsters simply by requiring telephone companies to offer simultaneous ring, the service that enables call blockers like NoMoRobo. For example, the only phone company that serves my rural exchange uses VoIP but refuses to install simultaneous ring, so I continue to be deluged by scammers that the FCC and FTC do not prosecute. I suspect the FCC does not impose such a requirement on phone companies because they make money from scam call traffic in the form of access charges and international settlements.

We get them too. I had one that froze my computer screen and said I needed their computer support to get my computer working again. Hope I am smarter next time to not fall for it!!!

Hi BG, i had this happen to me a few years ago, paid $900, to get it working again, but went and fought it and got paid back, then just last week had it happen again, pulled the battery out of my lap top for awhile, put the battery back in and it worked just fine.

I am being pledged with calls about my computer. A little over a year I paid them 300.00 to unfreeze my computer and get it working. I was told it would last for 5 years, it hasn't been 5 years and now they are back calling me. What can I do? Is there someone you can report them to!

Phone companies and FCC and FTC do not care because they get there share

a bill needs to go through Congress that states that the fcc and ftc are liable for suit if a fraud is perpetrated and they neglect to investigated or help to erraticate the fraud. the ex potential of this can devastate peoples lives

I have been a victim of identity theft since 2015 I have contacted the FTC and everything has been resolved except for one item which they refuse to remove. I have filed police reports notified SSA and the IRS and signed affidavits. This experience has been a living nightmare. I can only hope and pray it doesn't happen to anyone else. Reporting to the Federal Identity Theft Department did the least for me. It was mostly me pursuing and not giving up that resolved all the problems. It's interesting that they did not report the derogatory accounts on all 3 reports. Mostly Transunion and Experian.

I am getting the same calls from these Indians telling me there is a problem with my computer and they need to fix is , I get these calls 3 - 4 time's a week and now I'm getting them telling me I am getting a refund from windows or Microsoft . so I tell them to mail me a check and they say there not aloud to do that they need to get into my computer .

Thank you for reporting end of year outcomes. I'd like to know more about prevention. Also catching and prosecuting those who commit these crimes.

Check the call display before picking up. If you don't recognize the number let them leave a message and decide then if you want to pick up. No government agency will call you regarding taxes. Always by mail, usually registered.

I agree. When your phone does not recognize the number, don't answer; if it is important, they'll leave a message (and that leaves you time to think or to ask a friend before you reply).

Is there an available percentage of elderly persons who were scammed during this reporting period

The Consumer Sentinel Network Data Book 2017 is not a survey. It is a report about the people who contacted the FTC to report their experience in calendar year 2017.

Approximately 1.1 million people reported fraud to the FTC in 2017. Almost half (49%) of the people who reported fraud also gave their age when they made a report. Meaning: 555,834 people both reported fraud and told their age. Here are the ages of some of those 555,834 people:

  • 60-69: 107,107
  • 70-79: 62,443
  • 80+:  28,225

Yes their were

I get the distinct impression that government is now just logging incidents onto databases and not doing much about lopping off the heads of scammers so that the practice of scamming slows to acceptable levels. Just MHO.

Indeed. If there were 1.1 million Americans victimized by burglars who kicked in doors and robbed them, and the criminals were largely never investigated, much less caught or prosecuted, people would demand action. But, when it's organized criminals calling from India claiming to be the IRS, Windows IT, Hewlett Packard, your grandchild needing bail money, etc, the theft is not a priority with law enforcement. The reality is that you, the victim, are expected to protect yourself from these organized criminals, 'cause government law enforcement agencies devote next to no resources to combatting that sort of crime. AS you point out, they count victims, but do little to protect the governed.

I understand and share your frustration, however the US govt doesn't have the authority to control what people do in India.Frankly it blows my mind how many people fall for fakes. if they would simply follow logic and 1. Never buy anything over the telephone unless you call them. 2. Apply the old but wise saying if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. 3. Never let anyone who calls you have any personal information and four. No windows company or any other computer company calls you unsolicited - personally about your computer. 5. Never accept money from strangers and then send them back money. 6. No valid contest requires any payment from the winner.7. Most important of all; check with a friend or family member who is wise about these things before getting involved. If a caller cannot give you a valid number to call them back, they are not a valid business.

the best prevention is "do not trust anyone" If they are legit, they will confirm your questions. Do not be afraid to challenge the validity of anyone that contacts you

Vary interesting statistics!As I have reported some of these scams, I always wonder if those I have reported , have ever been caught? And what were the results? I am still getting these calls, but don't know how to stop them.

This FTC article about blocking unwanted calls has some ideas to help you.

Great America can't fight those criminals, I believe you have to make it easier system to report .If you create another system to collect information from all victims, then you will be able to fight Scammers much better. They are more likely to be considered as financial criminals?

Thank you that insightful information.

where's the list?

You can view the PDF version of the Consumer Sentinel Data Book 2017.

We were contacted by someone posing as our grandson, and asking us to send money. We didn't, but wonder how they got our home phone number and the name of our grandson?

They may have gotten your grandson's name from his social media account, or yours.

They may not have said your grandson's name when they called. Sometimes scammers say "Hi, it's your favorite grandson" and trick you into saying a name in response, like this: "Mark? Is that you?"

Betsy -- My mother got the "grandma scam" where callers claiming to be her grandson and claimed that he was arrested in Kansas for DUI with just enough personal information to convince her the call was real. The info, in her grandson's case, who had recently applied for a security clearance, likely came from the theft of personnel records at the federal Office of Personnel Management (OPM) which lost more than 20+ million top secret personnel records to Chinese hackers. When I contacted the scammers, they used "burner phones" and routed me all around. A report to local law enforcement did no good as they just said "Report it to the FBI" (which also did nothing).

@ Mark S;

We are basically on our own out here. I recently TRIED to report scam calls,I received 11 in one day. I first called my phone provider: They took all the information I could provide them and told me that they had received several calls like mine in the past week. Then told me to be sure to report it to law enforcement.
I called my State Attorney General: They took my complaint, and told me I could go to their website and download a copy of it for my records. Then told me to also report it to local law enforcement.
I called my local LEO office: After having me explain everything that had happened and giving them phone numbers and times of the calls, I got put on hold for 7mins and 38sec, only to be told that there was really nothing they could do. They gave me the number to the local state office of the FBI and said that was who I needed to report it to.
I called the FBI number: Once again I explained everything... well almost. I was cut short to be told they don't handle those type of complaints. I explained that I was given their number and referred to them by my local law enforcement. The woman on the other end was livid! Not with me but with local LEO and wanted to know which office I had spoke to... I gave her the information. I hope she gave them what for because they made me look like an old fool. She told me that I needed to report it to the FTC, and gave me their contact information.
I contacted the FTC: Once again I explained everything and provided all the information I had. I was told that my complaint had been filed and they would look into it. That was 2 months ago..... I'm still receiving calls from some of the same numbers that I reported.
Needless to say I feel like it is a waste of time to report this kind of stuff. So if by chance I inadvertently answer one of these calls, they DON'T get what they are looking for, instead they are meant with a very pissed off (please excuse my language) and rude ol'woman!!
Good luck out there and tell your mother I said always have your guard up and trust no one.

Sick of Red Tape --
I had the same experience with government agencies when I reported the grandma scam to them. Our tax dollars at work.
But, if you have a VoIP phone and if you carrier offers "simultaneous ring" as an optional service, you can install "NoMoRobo" which blocks more than 400,000 known scammers and annoying telemarketers. It's free and I installed it on my Mom's phone. She literally went from more than 5 scam/telemarketing calls a day to 0 instantly.
If the FTC and the FCC actually did anything, they would order telephone companies under their jurisdictions to offer simultaneous ring, which would end the plague of scam calls and "do nothing" government that only draws a paycheck but fails to protect us from criminals.

My son in his 30's in Georgia got scammed from the IRS Green Card story. They knew all about him. The local St Mary's GA police told us they turn cases over to the FBI, apparently not.$750 lost. Same year My 84 year old Father in Law in WA got the green card scam about his Grandson needing a lawyer to get out of jail. $5,000.00 lost. Neither had a Facebook or simular public profile except one thing in common, their credit reports. Now the credit report companies want the consumers to pay for them to place an extra layer of protection on our data they are supposed to be protecting, shame on Experian, Transunion, and all data miners out there.

I received a call from s person by the name of Michael Shaw, (1-744-865-1333, extension 108) asking if I was sending inappropriate emails because he was calling from yahoo and supposedly, they were getting complaints . So if I was not sending them, then Michaels claimed I was probably hacked and proceeded to give me Instructions so that he could take a look at my computer and see if there were Trojans horses. He claimed my AVG security system was not adequate for Windows operating systems. In all, Michaels was allowed into my computers d then he said Yahoo it they would clean it up and put in a very secure firewall and security system as well as remove all the error files and hacking connections for $149.00 for two years or 249.99 for 5 years. I told them that I was traveling and hardly use my laptop but, would just shut it down and get back to them.
So, I took my laptop to a computer repair shop once I got ho e and learned that this Michael had commandeered my motherboard and pretty much now owns it. There is no way, I have been told, that I can access my computer. They pretty much have stolen my computer!!!!
What can I do? I want to fight this crime and injustice and want to get the word out as well as catch these evildoers!P.s. I have contacted yahoo and I am trying to find my windows disk where they may be able to help but there is no guarantee.Yes! I was duped!

Greetings my question how much of this level of fraud and corruption is contributed by Government to Bank transfers for customers or inhouse fraud costing individuals millions 250 in one case alone banker slight of hand?

I've been close to being suckered myself. I recently go an East Indian guy that told me I owed the IRS $10,000. I had an hour to pay up. For once I was on my game. I ACTED as though I was in a panic, told him I would do whatever needed to be done. He gave me instructions, (it was a rainy day so I wanted to kill some boredom),told him ok to all of his demands. He called back an hour later, I strung him along for another hour, then another. Finally, he hung up. Seldom have time for such nonsense but that day I did. Got some satisfaction messing with him.

Sounds like great fun. Time consuming, but more fun than watching tv.

I have several calls from scammers. I have had them call and ask for William. When I said they have the wrong number, they say "well maybe you can help me." I say NO ,I cannot help. The other day I got a call from the "IRS" saying I owed money. I messed with this guy for about 30 minutes until he finally caught on that I knew what was happening. I also get text messages several times a day but just delete them. I think I have had the top 7 or 8 scams tried on me beginning the the Equifax breach. I have also had to close accounts that were hacked in this same time period. I have not reported them as there is nothing they can do. The bigger problem is they are spoofing phone numbers that look almost like contacts on my phone. When I answer them, I know immediately that it is a scam. I had one the other day from a lady that said she had a job for me that I had applied for. She just needed to verify information and I said she can tell me the info and I would tell her if she was right. She tried everything to get me to give her information. When I refused, Guess what? Yes, scammer and besides I have been employed for 20+ years with the same company.

SOMEONE SAID MY NAME WAS ON A LIST TO RECEIVE MONEY SO THEY ASK ME TO SEND THEM 850 DOLLARS AND UPS BE DELIVERING MY MONEY NOW THEY GOT THAT NOW THEY ASKING FOR 1250 DOLLARS I SENT THE MONEY THRU MONEYGRAM AND I TOLD THEM I DONT HAVE 1250 THEY SAID I HAVE TO SEND IT TO THEM EVEN SHOWED ME PICTURES OF THE MONEY THEY CLAIM UPS WAS DELIVERING TO ME. I SENT THE MONEY TO NIGERIA LAGOS

This sounds like a scam. If someone says you will get money, but they make you pay first, that is usually a scam. You can stop paying. You could report this to the MoneyGram Customer Care Center at 1‑800‑926‑9400.

Did this someone call you or send you an email? In either case, this is obviously a scam and I'm sorry you didn't see that. If Moneygram is anything like Western Union you should be able to register a complaint and ask them to halt all payments and ask to get your money back.

It all sucks

I heard a great response to scammers that i started using: "Sorry but I don't conduct business over the Telephone. If you have legitimate business send it by mail. thanks." it works about 95% of the time. with the other 5%, i just hang up!
Friends, don't depend on the FTC or the FBI or anyone else to monitor your phone calls or help you after you are Scammed. It's not going to happen!
do what you can to help yourself! You are the very best protection you will Ever Have.

Of course Florida is on your high scammer list. Before spoofing was big, they were almost always the state telemarketers called from. Most be something different about the laws in Florida that attracts telemarketers/scammers.

I've had many guys tell me they r in the military having photo to show. Then they all have told me there wive died in a automobile acsadent they all have one child. And they come to the point.they need money for there child or want me to buy a I phone card or a lap top. Or eventhe child has become suddenly I'll and their funds r locked up because of deployment of the military.there was even a guy saying he was stuck in a different country and need some kind of card so he could get back home promising to pay back and money spent to help him

I lost $3,450.00 due to Western Union Scams in 2007 internet companies charging excessive fees, incorrect billing later reported $800.00 bill to collection agency. I have had (2) internet satellite companies do this, harassment calls when on Do not call lists for 5 years. The telemarketing calls my phone 50-75 calls monthly, it has gotten so bad I put my phone on Do not disturb and only allow my favorite lists.
It bad when 100 disable citizen has to have this abusive treatments age 64.

Mortgage Company Ocwen Loan Servicing, LLC has ripped us off financially by overpayments, not applying to home loan correctly, not sending billing statements? Not reporting payments correctly to credit bureaus? Attempting to rip you off with your royalty's. Too many descrepencies to lists, and yes I have filed complaints after complaints with no results in putting a stop to these Fradulent companies.

If you used Western Union to send money to a scammer between January 1, 2004 and January 19, 2017, you can file a claim to get money back.

You must file a claim by May 31, 2018. Go to FTC.gov/WU

to read more about the refunds. You can click the orange button near the top of the to FTC.gov/WU page to connect to the claim filing website and start the process.

I filed a complaint recently because When my emails were not being sent or received. I contacted my provide. They gave me to their tech support department . The interaction with them had several signs of tech support scam. After clearing up the problem and a $300 software purchase, 2 months later I get call claiming they are my tech support. Had all my info from original call. It was another attempt to scam me. I just want to understand why I was scammed when I made the call to my provider. No pop up ad, no email or incoming call. I initiated the contact. Is my provider working with a fraud ring?

Can you remember where you found the contact information for your provider when you contacted them the first time? Some scammers use names that look like real providers' names, and they put ads online. When you search for your provider, you might click on the scammer's ad instead of your provider's.

If you know a scammer is calling, do not give personal or financial information. Don't give them access to your computer. Read about what to do if you were scammed in a tech support scam.

My provider is sbcglobal.net. I first contacted AT&T because I thought the provider was part of their organization. At&t provided me the number that I called. That was the beginning of the scam. What I understood was that they outsource tech support to a company called softtech 365. I was given customer if & sold anti hacking software. I think I may have been scammed at that time because it seemed odd. 2 months later the big scam call came claiming to be softtech 365. Said hacking happening again. Needed upgrade on software. We're going to refund my 300$ but said he credited me 3,000 on my credit card which he had all info on. This is the clencher! He wanted me to get 2700$ in target gift cards to correct the error. I need to change providers.

So glad to hear about the FTC and FCC get together to stop all these illegal sp/m calls. I am up here in Canada, and just wanted to share with you the spate of weird calls, and kudos to those who took on RoboRachel and wow, I did think she was vanquished, but while not roboRachel, from time to time with these calls, there is a female voice saying they have tried to contact us over and over and if we don't press one we will lose opportunity to have lower credit card rates. The area code or at least first three number incoming on call display are 190...and that also the phone number is not/NOT a full number, as in it is made to look like an incoming long distance call from our own area code, as other places do have our area code and are long distance, however, there is no/NO area code 190 and the numbers after, well, I have plugged it into internet and got weird stuff, but nothing to do with credit card robo calls. Oh we thought we had this done, but it would appear no. I share this with you also as I was wondering if anyone south of the border down there is getting same and also, there was some note about 190 having something to do with India phone numbers? But the lady voice on call is not accented, so I have written many times to our own CRTC but you know, what you will be doing is great getting the FCC in place, we need to stop, as I have no way to stop such things, my blocked list is now cotninueally full and I just recycle number space and we have to have our phone ringer off all times now, all times, as we do not receive many calls other than these garbage things. I am so sorry to still read about older folks and I am one now as well, well, young at heart for sure, but very concerning, as they will thing it is their family or they need, as a call came in the other night and took the whole space up, not letting go, and some of us need to have that line free if we need to dial emerg or have alarms or so, so this must be stopped. Someone along the line will break a hip or so trying to rush to pick up the phone. I hope you can have and hope we can as well systems that can at least block serial offenders from where they are incoming so to speak, wherever from. Time's up for them too. I hope so, so we can have peace and not be paying well almost a payment hundreds of dollars a month now for our communications systems, just for what? Time to yank the wires of the egregious serial phone offenders, and I am not even getting into cell and other stuff, I don't have all that either, but the garbage that takes up our time and puts our blood pressure up has to stop. Door to door, another safety matter, for another time, got laws to stop some but merely a cloak for either sales or worse, assaults on those who answer, sometimes. Fraud and goodness knows what all. Time to give the consumer peace and safety, Good luck and have a great time getting together and putting the brain cells in overdrive on this, all the best and may the best practices be shared, we get on the bandwagon too for sure. Thank you for all you do.

Catching these robo scammers is not what it used to be. Just ask your local DA's office. Scammers hide their actual phone numbers by displaying someone else's number when they call you. Rarely have I had a scammer call me twice using the same number. They instantly change, making it near to impossible to track them.

I have been getting 5-6 scam calls a month, either the IRS scam or the sheriff's department scam. I use a simple rule: If I don't recognize the phone number calling me, I don't answer the call. If it's important, they'll leave a message and I look for the message right away. If it's a scammer, the robo message will appear in my voice mail and I'll report it to the FCC. It's better to have the data of the volume of these things than not to have it, in my opinion.

I got a phone call once from someone who said they had money for me but I would have to pay a fee to get it. The background noises sounded like they were in a hut in the middle of the jungle........too funny. I asked him for the address where to send the money....hope he's not still holding his breath.

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