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.