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New data from the US Federal Trade Commission (opens in new tab) (FTC) has revealed the astonishing scale of scams across America, which accounted for billions in losses last year.

In 2022, the FTC reported $8.8 billion in losses due to fraud, an increase of more than 30% on the previous year.

The report shares insights into the most common types of fraud to help protect consumers. Despite fewer reports of fraudulent activity last year compared with 2021, financial losses suffered a significant increase.

Scams are on the rise

The most popular type of fraud reported last year was imposter fraud, which sees people of malintent pretend to be somebody they’re not to tease money out of unsuspecting vulnerable consumers.

Other popular scams according to the 2.4 million reported instances included online shopping; prizes, sweepstakes, and lotteries; investments; and business and job opportunities.

The heaviest hitting type according to financial losses was investment scams, likely owing part of its success to the tough economic situation that has left many individuals trying to earn more money. Losses were up to $3.8 billion from less than half of this in 2021 ($1.8 billion), meaning that the growing type of fraud accounted for more than 43% of losses last year.

Besides scams, the FTC’s Consumer Sentinel Network received more than 5.1 million reports last year including fraud, identity theft reports, and other consumer issues.

Data is fed into the Sentinel by consumers; federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies; the Better Business Bureau; industry members; and non-profit organizations from 23 US states, suggesting that the US-wide figure could be double that again.

The FTC advises consumers to stay vigilant and, where necessary, step up their protection. It also urges victims to report activity to ReportFraud.ftc.gov (opens in new tab), which can help inform the Commission of future trends in order to adapt accordingly.

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