2020 was a tough year. Between the pandemic and the economic crisis, we all had our hands full—and scammers didn’t take any time off either.
Last year the FTC got more than 2.2 million reports about fraud, with people telling the agency they lost nearly $3.3 billion.
- The top fraud of 2020 was imposter scams. Scammers showed up wearing many different hats—from that of a government official, to a known business, to a dear family member or friend. The FTC got nearly 500,000 reports of imposter scams, and people reported losing a lot of money to these scammers: $1.2 billion, with a median loss of $850. Government and business imposter scams were also among the top categories of COVID-19 and stimulus related reports, proving once again, that scammers follow the headlines.
- Online shopping and negative reviews was the second most reported fraud category of 2020. With the pandemic came an increase in online shopping, and then a wave of reports about sellers failing to deliver on promises—or just failing to deliver, period. The FTC got more than 350,000 reports, with people telling us they lost a total of more than $245 million, with a median loss of about $100.
- The phone is still the top way that scammers are reaching us—both through phone calls and text messages. In fact, there was a sharp increase in the number of reports saying that scammers contacted them by text message. And, not surprisingly, many of these text messages were related to the pandemic. We heard about text message scams luring people to click on links with promises of stimulus relief, economic relief or loans for small businesses, or “waiting packages.”
The FTC can only fight scammers with your help. When you report to the FTC, your report is instantly available to more than 3,000 federal, state, and local law enforcers across the country who are looking to fight fraud. If you’ve spotted a scam, tell us at ReportFraud.ftc.gov.
By Monica Vaca, Associate Director, Division of Consumer Response and Operations