Florida ranks first in the nation for consumer fraud complaints to the FTC

A Federal Trade Commission report finds Florida ranks first in the nation for fraud. It is an achievement residents are not proud about, with fraud losses over $80 million in 2018.

Across the nation, consumers lost nearly $1.5 billion to fraud last year — about 40 percent higher than the year before. It was also the¬†top consumer complaint for the first time ever in 2018.¬†Following fraud, at the top of the list came consumer gripes about debt collection and identity theft.

The number of consumer fraud complaints resulted from an increase in government imposter scams. Fraudsters posing as employees of the Social Security Administration or IRS told victims they lost Social Security numbers and asked for payment or personal information to “reactivate” accounts.That would be a problem, except Social Security numbers are never suspended, and the Social Security Administration never requires people to obtain one.

Of 3 million total consumer complaints, 1.4 million were fraud reports. More than one-third of fraud reports involved imposter scams. Government scams cost nearly $488 million, with median loss per consumer of about $500.

Top 10 Fraud Categories

  • Imposter Scams
  • Telephone and Mobile Services
  • Shop-at-Home and Catalog Sales
  • Prizes, Sweepstakes and Lotteries
  • Internet Services
  • Travel, Vacations and Timeshare Plans
  • Foreign Money Offers and Counterfeit Check Scams
  • Business and Job Opportunities
  • Advance Payments for Credit Services
  • Health Care

Other examples of fraud included romance scams, scammers posing as “relatives” in distress and others that masquerade as attempts to extract money from victims.

Instead of digital communications, phone calls were the main method scammers used to contact individuals, counting for more than two-thirds of fraud reports. Although only 8 percent of people reported losing money to a scammer this way, such victims reported a median loss of $840.

More consumers reported paying the scammers with gift or reload cards in 2018, at a cost to them nearly doubling to $78 million from the previous year. Still, wire transfers and credit cards remained the top forms of payment for fraud, counting for about $423 million.

Younger people reported losing money to fraud more often than older people. More than 40 percent of people in their 20s said they were victims vs. only 15 percent of people in their 70s.

However, oldsters who did lose money lost more, suffering a median loss of $751, while people in their 20s reported losing $400.

Where Florida Cities Rank in the US Top 50 Metropolitan Areas for Identity Theft Reports:

*Ranked by reports per 100K population

  • JACKSONVILLE – 3
  • GAINESVILLE – 13
  • TAMPA -14
  • MIAMI – 15
  • ORLANDO – 19
  • OCALA – 21
  • PORT SAINT LUCIE – 22
  • PUNTA GORDA – 26
  • NORTH PORT / SARASOTA – 34
  • CAPE CORAL – 35
  • THE VILLAGES – 37
  • TALLY – 39
Author: CBS News / WINK News
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