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FTC Survey: 25.6 Million Americans Are Fraud Victims

24 Apr, 2013 By: Doug McPherson

WASHINGTON – The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) says an estimated 25.6 million adults – 10.8 percent of the adult population – were fraud victims in 2011.

Charles Harwood, acting director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, says the survey “will help us fine-tune both our enforcement and education efforts.” He adds, “The FTC fights fraud every day by taking scammers to court and telling consumers how to avoid being scammed.”

The survey indicates that, as of 2011, the Internet was also the place where consumers most often learned about fraudulent offers. The Internet category – which includes E-mail, social media, auction sites and classified ads – was followed by print advertising, and TV and radio. Most consumers bought fraudulent items via the Internet; telephone purchases ranked second.

The survey asked consumers about 15 specific categories of fraud, and two general categories, and of the specific categories the top 10 were:

  • 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)

An estimated 17.3 percent of African Americans and 13.4 percent of Hispanics were victims; the rate for non- Hispanic whites was 9 percent. The survey found that high school graduates were the least likely to have been fraud victims; those who did not complete high school were the most likely to have been victims.

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