Fake debt collection, identity theft and imposter scams are topping the list of fraud reported in 2017. There were nearly 350,000 reports of imposter scams last year, which resulted in $328 million unrightfully paid to individuals posing as loved ones, government officials and more, according to the Federal Trade Commission.
The FTC received complaints of fraud from 2.7 million people. Florida, Georgia and Nevada had the highest number of fraud reports.
1. If someone calls you demanding money, hang up the phone.
Most victims of fraud in 2017 were contacted by phone. If you receive a call from anyone claiming to be a representative of the IRS, keep in mind the IRS will never contact you by phone. If you owe money to the IRS, they will send a letter through the mail.
Last year, the average amount of money lost to over the phone scams was $720. The average amount lost to fraud was $429 while the average loss among military consumers was slightly higher, at $619. The median amount lost to imposters was $500 and the highest median loss was related to travel, vacations and timeshares, at $1,710.
2. Avoid making payments through wire transfer.
The phone and wire transfer scheme is one of the oldest tricks in the book. This is because once you send the money, it’s difficult to get it back. Last year, most of the victims that were contacted by phone also paid the scammers through wire transfer. Make sure you do your research and establish credibility before you send money to anyone.
3. Be extra careful about how you share sensitive information.
You can protect yourself from identity theft by being very careful with your sensitive information. For example, avoid sharing your social security number through unsecured internet connection. Avoid sharing your credit card information over the phone. You can also protect your identity by destroying old documents that contain your information.
About 14 percent of reported fraud in 2017 was related to identity theft. Victims of identity theft also fell prey to credit card fraud. Be especially careful with your information if you live in Michigan, Florida or California which were the top three states for identity theft last year.
Taking these steps could really save you from losing money to a scam. Tax fraud in 2017 reduced by 46 percent compared to 2016. This may be because more people are becoming aware of imposter tricks during tax time.
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Nearly 3 million people fell victim to fraud last year. You can protect yourself from fraud with these three steps v/@AmericaSaves >> http://bit.ly/2In74Ce