FTC Releases Consumer Fraud Survey
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FTC Releases Consumer Fraud Survey
More Than One-In-10 Americans Fell Victim to Fraud

The Federal Trade Commission today released a statistical survey of fraud in the United States that shows that nearly 25 million adults ' 11.2 percent of the adult population ' were victims of fraud during the year studied. Certain racial and ethnic minorities were much more likely to be victims of fraud then non-Hispanic whites. American Indians and Alaska Natives were the ethnic group most likely to be victims: nearly 34 percent had experienced one or more frauds in the preceding year. Seventeen percent of African Americans were victims; over 14 percent of Hispanics were victims; and over 6 percent of Non-Hispanic whites were victims.

'We found that American Indians and Alaska Natives, African Americans, and Hispanics are more likely to be victims of fraud than non-Hispanic whites,' said Howard Beales, Director of the FTC Bureau of Consumer Protection. "These findings will help us fine-tune our Hispanic Law Enforcement and Outreach Initiative, and explore additional opportunities to target frauds aimed at communities which are at risk."

The survey of 2,500 randomly chosen consumers shows that consumers with high levels of debt were more likely to be victims of fraud. Three of the top four categories of fraud related to credit, including credit-repair scams often targeted at those carrying high debt loads or having bad credit.

The most frequently reported type of consumer fraud was advance-fee loan scams, in which consumers pay a fee for a 'guaranteed' loan or credit card. Four and a half million consumers ' 2.1 percent of the U.S. adult population ' paid advance fees but did not receive the promised loan or card. In fact, some consumers reported that more than once during the last year they paid fees to get loans or credit cards they did not get.

Buyers' club memberships or bills for unordered publications was the second most commonly reported fraud category in the survey. Some four million consumers ' 1.9 percent of the U.S. adult population ' were unwittingly billed for memberships they did not authorize or publications they did not order.

Credit card insurance scams and credit repair were the third and fourth most common frauds identified in the survey. While federal law limits consumers' credit card fraud liability to $50, fraudsters sell credit card insurance by falsely claiming that card holders face significant financial risk if their credit cards are misused. An estimated 3.3 million consumers bought unnesessary insurance against the unauthorized use of their credit cards.

Some fraudsters convince consumers that they can help them remove truthful, negative information from their credit report, or establish a new credit record. They can't, and credit repair schemes are illegal, but two million consumers paid for 'credit repair' services the year prior to the survey.

'The results of our survey indicate that fraud in the U.S. is a serious problem,' said Beales. 'We have brought many enforcement actions against these types of scams in the past, and we will bring more in the future.'

The survey reveals that 33 percent of fraud victims first learned about a fraudulent offer or product from print advertising in newspapers, magazines, direct mail, catalogs, or posters. Telemarketing was the first source of contact in 17 percent of the frauds. Only 14 percent of fraudulent offers were promoted using Internet and e-mail; television or radio advertising account for only 10.6 percent of fraudulent offers.

Women and younger consumers are more likely to complain if they have been victims of fraud, the survey found. An estimated 74.5 percent of female victims complained. For males, the complaint rate was 10 percentage points lower. Similarly, almost 75 percent of consumers under the age of 35 complained, compared to only 55.4 percent of consumers between 55 and 64.

According to the survey, consumers between the ages of 25 and 44 are most likely to be fraud victims. Eleven percent of them were victims, compared to 8.7 percent in the 45 to 54 year bracket, 6.1 percent of consumers aged 55 to 64, and only 4.7 of consumers 65 years and older.

The top 10 frauds listed in the report include:

Advance-fee loan scams ' 4.55 million victims;
Buyers clubs ' 4.05 million victims;
Credit card insurance ' 3.35 million victims;
Credit repair ' 2 million victims;
Prize promotions ' 1.8 million victims;
Internet services ' 1.75 million victims;
Pyramid schemes ' 1.55 million victims;
Information services ' .8 million victims;
Government job offers ' .65 million victims; and
Business opportunities ' .45 million victims.

In addition to the fraud categories, the survey found that an estimated 13.9 million consumers were victims of telephone
'slamming' ' unauthorized and illegal changes in long distance telephone service.

For more information:


Claudia Bourne Farrell,
Office of Public Affairs

About the ICFE:

The Institute of Consumer Financial Education (ICFE) was founded in 1982 by the late Loren Dunton (creator of the Certified Financial Planner (CFP) designation).  The ICFE is dedicated to helping consumers of all ages to improve their spending, increase savings and use credit more wisely. 
The ICFE is an award winning, nonprofit, consumer education organization that has helped millions of people through its education programs and Resources. It publishes the Do-It-Yourself Credit File correction Guide, which is updated annually. The ICFE has distributed over one million Credit/Debit Card Warning Labels and Credit/Debit Card Sleeves world wide.

The ICFE became an official partner with the Department of Defense/Financial Readiness Campaign in June of 2004.The ICFE was an active partner in the California Student Debt Resource Awareness Project (CASDRAP) which resulted in a new web site: (studentdebthelp.org).  CASDRAP disbanded in 2010, shortly after the web site project was completed.  In 2011 the ICFE assumed the single sponsorship of the (studentdebthelp.org) web site and is now responsible for its content and operation.

The ICFE is also an on-line help for consumers who spend too much.  ICFE's spending help was featured in PARADE Magazine in the Intelligence Report section. The money helps and tips are from the ICFE's Money Instruction Book, our course in personal finance.

Visit the ICFE's other web sites at: www.financial-education-icfe.org and studentdebthelp.org.  Both sites helps consumers and students with mending spending, learning about the proper use of credit, budget and expense guidelines, how to set up and implement a spending-plan and also how to access financial education courses and how to teach children about money. Other ICFE services include: Ask Mr. G,  a free eNews, and an online resource center for students, parents and educators, plus financial education learning tools and a book store.

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