Americans lost a record $8.8 billion to fraud in 2022
Americans are losing more to fraud than ever before. According to the data presented by the Atlas VPN team, consumers in the United States lost an unprecedented $8.8 billion to various scams in 2022 — a 43% rise from the previous year.
While fraud losses increased, the number of fraud cases dropped by a fifth from 2.9 million in 2021 to 2.4 million in 2022.
The numbers are based on the data from a publicly accessible database managed by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). US Citizens can submit fraud reports to the FTC for further investigation.
Fraudsters utilize a range of techniques and scams to cash in from unsuspecting victims. However, some scams are more lucrative than others.
Investment-related fraud hurt consumers the most, with reported losses reaching $3.8 billion in 2022, up 116% from $1.8 billion in 2021. Funds lost to investment fraud alone constituted nearly half the total losses to fraud in the US last year. Overall, there were 104,703 investment fraud cases recorded in 2022.
While US citizens lost the most money to investment fraud, imposter scams were the most prevalent, with 725,989 cases reported in 2022. Together they cost US consumers $2.7 billion — 11% more than the previous year.
The third spot on the list is occupied by business and job opportunities fraud. US consumers reported 92,723 such fraud instances, totaling $367.4 million in losses. Compared to 2021, losses to business and job opportunities fraud increased by 76%.
Next up is online shopping and negative reviews scams, which cost consumers $358.1 million. Contrary to other types of fraud, losses to online shopping and negative review scams actually dropped by 9% compared to 2021. In total, there were 327,000 online shopping fraud cases in 2022.
Prizes, sweepstakes, and lotteries scams round out the top five fraud categories based on total losses in 2022. Fraudsters looted $301.9 million from these types of scams — a 15% rise from 2021. Overall, US citizens reported 143,132 prizes, sweepstakes, and lottery scam cases to the FTC.
How to avoid falling victim to fraud
Cybercrime across America affects some states more than others. Also, fraudsters continuously find innovative ways to deceive victims. However, there are some general rules you can follow to help you avoid falling victim to fraud.
- Verify the identity of the person or organization contacting you. Always confirm the identity of the person or organization that is contacting you. Scammers often impersonate legitimate companies or individuals to gain your trust and steal your personal information. You can do this by calling the company or individual directly using a phone number you know to be legitimate or by doing an online search to confirm their credentials.
- Do not fall for urgency or pressure tactics. Scammers often use urgency or pressure tactics to force you into making a quick decision. They may say that you have won a prize or that an urgent problem needs to be addressed but that you must act immediately. Take the time to think through any requests or offers before making a decision.
- Be cautious of unsolicited calls, emails, or messages. Unsolicited calls, emails, or messages can often be scams. If you receive a call or message from an unknown number or email address, do not provide personal information or click on any links until you verify their legitimacy.
- Keep your personal information secure. Be wary of sharing personal information such as your social security number, bank account information, or credit card details unless you are absolutely sure it is necessary and legitimate. Always use secure websites and payment methods when making purchases online.
- Stay informed. Keep up-to-date with the latest scams and fraud tactics. Check with your bank, credit card company, or other financial institution to see if they have any resources available to help protect you from fraud. Stay informed by reading news articles or signing up for scam alerts.