Fraud Affects 25 Million People: Recognize Anyone You Know?

Fraud Survey Report CoverThe FTC is always working to know more about the types of fraud being committed and who spends money on them. Consumers provide us with useful information through periodic surveys that ask them to share the important details about their recent marketplace experiences and a bit about themselves. 

Last year, we asked people about their experiences with 17 types of fraud, and learned that nearly 11 percent of U.S. adults, or an estimated 25.6 million people, had paid for fraudulent products and services in 2011. The most-reported frauds involved weight loss products, prize promotions, unauthorized billing for buyer’s clubs or internet services, and work at home programs. 

We learned that how people get product information and choose to pay relates to the likelihood they’ve been defrauded. People who made a first time purchase by internet or telephone after getting a telemarketing call, watching a TV ad or infomercial, or opening a spam email, were three times as likely to be victims of at least one fraud as people who didn’t buy in those circumstances.

Those who’d faced a serious negative life event — such as divorce, death of a family member or close friend, serious injury or illness in the family, or job loss — in the two years prior to the survey experienced more fraud than people who hadn’t. They experienced nearly four times as much debt-related fraud, three times as many fraudulent prize promotions, and twice as much fraud in general.

Fewer than one in ten (9 percent) of non-Hispanic whites experienced at least one fraud. Among Hispanics, 13 percent experienced at least one fraud; among African Americans 17 did. People age 45-54 were more likely than others — from age 18 to 75+, to spend money on a fraudulent product or service. 

To see what everyone can do to avoid fraud, see 10 Ways to Avoid Fraud and Common Online Scams.

Tagged with: FTC, research


Occasionally I and my friends have received fraudulent and threatening phone calls demanding money, stating "will send Federal Marshals to arrest, confiscate USA Citizenships, jail time and more". Caller IDs for these calls show they are initiated from USA; however there are typical foreign accent including those of Indians; repeatedly making similar phone calls to several other Indian friends. I reported such incident to the local police but they told me to ignore and block such calls. One of my friend even called FBI but these types of phone calls to others continue.

I had the same thing happen to just last week saying I had a warrant out for my arrest saying he was investigator from Tucson Az, police saying that cash advanced had a lawsuit against my name and my ssi

Telemarketing scams are on the rise. So always be suspicious of those who call you. If it is out of your calling area, that is your first clue, if you happen to pick up and it is a robo telemarketing call thats your sign that they are criminals looking to steal. Robo telemarketing calls are illegal. Never give out personal information over the phone. Even if it seems legit. Just don't do it for. It is for your own safety.

I have gotten 2 calls from someone saying that there is something wrong with my computer. They tell me to go to my computer and release it to them so that they can fix it. I told them that I was paying for my computer to be protected and that I would call them to take care of It. Of course that was not what they wanted to hear, but oh well. I have been reading that people are doing that to get to your information. I hope they are not getting anyone.

OK, I have a question to throw out to....I don't know, the cosmos? The FTC? Posters here? People like me if they're out there? Or anyone who's listening and would be kind enough to offer me some insight! I have been on this site pretty much all day, and this is also one of several times I've visited here trying to understand credit/privacy/fraud/identity theft laws. I find tons of info on how to recognize problems, how to prevent them, and great resources for fixing things as they happen. I've also found SEVERAL blog posts and the like that talk about how many people are affected, how many millions of scams exist, how common they are, but most specific to my interests here, how many (and subsequently why) cases go unreported. What I can't seem to find, is what should a person do, or is there even any help or possibilities out there at all, for a person of extremely limited means (because the 1st thing I am sure to hear is "hire a lawyer" which laughable in my financial situation, and Legal Aide and those agencies who are SUPPOSED to help do zip...they give me more of the same "how to prevent" info, and that's it!) who has unfortunately over the years been unbelievably and seemingly irrecoverably financially ruined because they have been the victim of scams, fraud, identity theft, etc., several times over?! I'm sure your first thought is, "hello dumb*$%#$ you should have reported them as they happened!" Well, here's the thing...1st, I have. Every. Single. Time. Each of course has different specifics, but the end result being every time, there was either nothing I could do due to lack of any proof as to EXACTLY the perpetrator was, or the cost to solve the problem was just WAY out of reach! It's only been this past year that I've learned these exact scams, frauds, whatever, are totally commonplace and not just happening to me! And also the steps, ALL OF THE STEPS, that I should have done starting with the 1st incident. If I go back to the 1st, we didn't even have internet, so try to imagine how NOT readily available or advertised this info was! Even now, I only know what I do now because I have no job any longer, and have the time to sit here and search for hours for this info! So is there anything someone like me could do for PAST issues? It would literally be easier for me to specify what things SHOULD be in my credit reports, my medical records, and my criminal record, than to report all the things that SHOULDN'T be there but are! I wasn't even aware of most of it until now, but a lot of it really old! I feel like an idiot, so no hard feelings that you view me as such! But I am at desperation peak here! Since reaching 18 yrs old, I've only had 2 credit cards, 2 different checking accounts, 3 car loans, and 2 medical problems that were big money or ongoing. No student loans, no mortgages, NOTHING else. Ummm because I've NEVER BEEN ABLE TO QUALIFY FOR ANYTHING because of these things! There are payday loans, car loans, a misc loan, credit card accounts, store credit accounts, automatic checking withdrawals causing my account to be so overdrawn I couldn't bring them current while they investigate and the banks 86 me, an apt eviction, a few huge medical bills, a court judgement on a car accident, and countless negative reports of delinquencies and such to the CRAs...all NOT MINE! I'm 39 now, and have always had the lowest possible credit scores because of these problems. Subsequently, people assume I'm trash, I'm lying, I'm guilty, and don't help me. Wouldn't even bother pointing me to who could. I only found this info looking myself, and frankly just didn't think help existed. All this time only hearing stories of others like me - no single tale of someone recovering or even a hopeful sign of one day maybe! Depression is not conducive to self help, ya know? OK, done word vomiting, sorry! Just throwin a line out, hoping....I guess I'll keep checkin back here! Thank you from the bottom of my heart for ANY info!!

Verizon will bill you for an entire month even if you do not have service if you port your number to another carrier. This happen to me and I had no acces to my online account or any verizon services.

nice job

I checked the county website to find out how much we owed in taxes. Could not find the oroperty under name. Called the county, they now show M&M investments filed a warranty deed on 12-12-14. This was recoded on 10-9-2015. Our names were forged on this document. My dad has been deceased over 12 years, so no one could have notorized his signature. The county says they are not required to check names on the deeds. Their job is just to make sure it has been notorized,so in other words it could have had Mickey Mouse name on it. No one will tell me what form is needed to reverse. The county says u most get a lawyer. All my money currently goes for chemo. So anyone can file a quick claim deed on your property and take it.

There are a few places you can check for legal help.

Contact a legal aid lawyer to see if you're eligible to get help.

Use this state-by-state list from the American Bar Association to find a private lawyer in your state. It also has information about your state court system and explains what you can do on your own.

The State Bar Associations website is another resource. Use the State Bar Associations list to find the bar association in your county, and call them to ask about finding a lawyer.

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