More Than 10% of US Adults Were Victims of Fraud in 2011

A recent report by the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) entitled “Consumer Fraud in the United States, 2011: The Third FTC Survey” provides some interesting statistics on the prevalence of fraud.  The underlying consumer surveys revealed that during 2011 an estimated 10.8 % of U.S. adults (25.6 million people) were a victim of one or more of an estimated total of 37.8 million incidents of fraud.

The most frequently reported types of fraud included:

  • fraudulent weight-loss products
  • fraudulent prize promotions
  • being billed for a buyers’ club membership that one had not agreed to purchase
  • being billed for Internet services that one had not agreed to purchase
  • fraudulent work-at-home programs.

Many of these frauds were perpetuated over the internet.  The study also described characteristics prevalent among the fraud victims, which included:

  • being a risk taker
  • having had a recent serious negative life event (e.g.divorce, serious illness, loss of job)
  • having limited numeric skills
  • having excessive debt

Although the results are troubling, they generally represent a decrease in fraud victimization versus the prior 2005 study.  Increased consumer awareness of these types of frauds is integral to their continuing decline.

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