The median loss among all fraud reports last year was $375 – but were much higher in some categories, including mortgage foreclosure relief/debt management ($1,377), business and job opportunities ($1,304) and foreign money offers/counterfeit check scams ($1,214).
Of the total complaints, nearly half were related to fraud, while 15 percent pertained to identity theft. Of all fraud cases, consumers reported losing money in about one-quarter of them.
Here’s a look at the main schemes criminals used to swindle victims, according to the report:
There were more than 535,000 reports of imposter scams, with one-in-five reporting a dollar loss. Last year was the first that this type of scheme was the most prevalent. Imposter scams include romance scams, someone calling claiming to be with the government, or just generally pretending to be someone you know and trust, asking you to send money.
This type of fraud accounted for 18 percent of all consumer reports.
Overall, about $488 million was lost to imposter scams.
In a press conference on Thursday, Attorney General William Barr explained that his portrait was actually wrongfully used in one if these schemes, to convince people to send money to fake account in exchange for help procuring grants.
This highest reports of fraud cases were recorded in Florida, Georgia, Nevada, Delaware and Maryland.
Identity theft accounted for 15 percent of all reports.
Credit card fraud was the most prevalent type of identity theft in 2018, totaling 167,000 reports to the FTC. The number of identity theft reports pertaining to new accounts rose 24 percent, while those related to existing accounts fell by 6 percent.
On a positive note, tax-fraud related cases fell 38 percent. However, employment or wage-related fraud rose by 44 percent.
Federal student loan fraud was also popular, surging 119 percent.
People between the ages of 30 and 39 made the highest number of identity theft complaints, followed by those between the ages of 40 and 49.
Debt collection scams were responsible for 15 percent of complaints made to the FTC, for a total of 475,517 in 2018.
These schemes often involve a criminal making a telephone call to a victim trying to collect on a loan the consumer either never received or that they did receive but do not owe. Other times, the calls are pertaining to loans that were received, but the caller is not authorized to collect on them.
If you suspect you might be on the receiving end of one of these calls, the FTC recommends asking the caller for name, company, address and phone number. You can also tell the caller you will not pay without receiving a written validation notice. It is also important to never confirm or give out sensitive personal information unless you are sure about who you are dealing with.