FTC report on fraud

Didn’t get around to this one earlier, but it’s interesting. The FTC released their 2005 statistics on fraud a couple days ago. Would you believe that 46% of all the fraud complaints they got last year were Internet related? The losses from Internet related scams were comparable to those from offline scams; the median loss was a touch lower, in fact.

This kind of statistic is interesting to me. Obviously, internet fraud is a big problem, but it is clear we need to be aware that fraud happens quite a bit offline too. However, of those who reported how initial contact happened, 55% reported the Internet as the initial contact in a fraud case.

Since I work at home, it’s easy to notice the work at home scams, but it was interesting to note that business opportunity and work at home scams were only 2% of the complaints recieved. Obviously, that’s still far too many, but the leading complaint was about internet auctions, with 12% of the complaints.

What caught my eye the most was a chart on the average amount. It covered the years from 2003-2005, and the numbers for 2005 jumped from the previous years. The average amount paid to a scam in 2003 was $1808, 2004 was $1846, but 2005 was $2412! A lower percentage of complaints reported the amount paid, which might have something to do with it, but that’s still quite an increase.

Clearly, it is very important to be careful about scams both online and offline. It is much easier for online scammers to contact a lot of people than it is for offline scammers, which is no doubt why the percentage is so high despite the medium’s relative newness (offline scams have been around a long, long time!). If you do get scammed, make sure you report it appropriately. I give tips on that in the scam section of the main website.

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