The Federal Trade Commissions stated that 2020 was a busy year for fraud. In 2020, the FTC got more than 2.2 million reports about fraud, with people telling us they lost nearly $3.3 billion.
The top fraud of 2020 was imposter scams. Imposter scams come in many varieties, but work the same way: a scammer pretends to be someone you trust to convince you to send them money. Imposters may pretend to be working for the government – maybe the IRS. Imposters may pretend to be from a company you trust, like a place you do business with, a charity that asks ask for donations or even a family member. Imposters are dishonest people who want to steal your money or get your personal information. They might call you on the phone or send an email or text. The FTC got nearly 500,000 reports of imposter scams, and people reported losing a lot of money to these scammers.
Online shopping and negative reviews was the second most reported fraud category of 2020. With the pandemic came an increase in online shopping, and then a wave of reports about sellers failing to deliver on promises — or just failing to deliver, period. The FTC got more than 350,000 reports, with people telling us lost a total of more than $245 million.
The phone is still the top way that scammers are reaching us — both through phone calls and text messages. In fact, there was a sharp increase in the number of reports saying that scammers contacted them by text message. And, not surprisingly, many of these text messages were related to the pandemic. We heard about text message scams luring people to click on links with promises of stimulus relief, economic relief or loans for small businesses, or “waiting packages.”
We can only fight scammers if we work together and report them! When you report to the FTC, your report is instantly available to more than 3,000 federal, state, and local law enforcers across the country who are looking to fight fraud. If you’ve spotted a scam, tell the FTC at ReportFraud.ftc.gov.