Scams continued to break records for separating consumers from their hard-earned money in 2022. New data from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) reveals that last year, consumers reported a huge increase in losses from fraudsters compared to the previous year. See the top five scams and find out what you can do to safeguard your assets and not fall victim to a fraudster.
2022 scams shatter previous records
2.4 million consumers contacted the FTC to report scams last year. Their reported $8.8 billion lost from fraud represent an alarming 30% jump from 2021's total —$6.1B lost from scams.
Despite a decrease in scam reports (from 2.9M to 2.4M year over year) the average consumer loss increased by nearly 75%. The average loss per consumer in 2022 was $3,666, as compared to $2,103 in 2021.
Investment scams accounted for $3.8B in losses in the U.S., more than double the $1.8B 2022 total. This corresponds to a record year for cryptocurrency hacking, which cost crypto owners worldwide an oddly identical $3.8B.
Social media was the most lucrative medium for scammers, accounting for $1.2B of total losses. Phone calls resulted in the highest median loss at $1,400 per person. Average consumer losses to scams have increased steadily each year since 2018. FTC data on the top fraud category, imposter scams, illustrates the yearly upward trend:
- 2018: $492.0M in total consumer losses reported
- 2019: $900.2M
- 2020: $1.229.4M
- 2021: $2,400.6M
- 2022: $2,666.7M
Top frauds by category
The FTC’s Consumer Sentinel Network tracks all consumer fraud complaints by category. Below, we break down the top five fraud categories of 2022 by total complaints and percentage of overall reports filed:
|Category||Number of Reports||Total $ Loss||Median $ Loss|
|1. Imposter Scams||725,989||$2,666.7M||$1,000|
|2. Online Shopping||327,609||$358.1M||$180|
|3. Prizes, Sweepstakes, Lotteries||143,132||$301.9M||$907|
|5. Business, Job Opportunities||95,399||$367.4M||$2,000|
The FTC breaks down the concerning data in the following graphic:
How to protect yourself
Consider these tips to guard against the most common types of scams:
- Never trust caller ID on your phone, especially when the caller asks for private information. Banks will never call and ask you for that info over the phone, to avoid this exact scenario. Reach out to your bank or credit card company via their mobile app or via their official phone number.
- Be skeptical of online shopping sites and email offers with suspiciously low prices, no return policy, or missing/negative online reviews.
- Never share passwords or numbers for Social Security, credit cards, or bank accounts.
- Don't send money to someone you don’t know, even if you've been chatting online through a dating platform or social media. If you've never met in person, and they ask for funds, there's a high likelihood they're trying to scam you.
- Watch out for scam job listings that guarantee you a job or demand money for training, certification or supplies.
- Designate a trusted contact on your financial accounts that the bank can contact if they detect potential scams or financial exploitation.
- Put your number on the National Do Not Call Registry to avoid robocalls from scammers. Go to www.donotcall.gov or call (888) 382-1222.
- Submit complaints about scammers and fraudulent activities to www.consumerfinance.gov/complaint.
Ben Demers manages digital content and engagement at Kiplinger, informing readers through a range of personal finance articles, e-newsletters, social media, syndicated content, and videos. He is passionate about helping people lead their best lives through sound financial behavior, particularly saving money at home and avoiding scams and identity theft. Ben graduated with an M.P.S. from Georgetown University and a B.A. from Vassar College. He joined Kiplinger in May 2017.
Four Reasons to Rent When You Downsize for Retirement
Renting is great when you want to test-drive a location, or you want more predictable costs. It might be easier for family relationships in the long run, too.
By Evan T. Beach, CFP®, AWMA® Published
What Factors Affect Your Home Insurance Cost?
Eight features influence your home insurance cost. Here's how to whittle down your premium.
By Daniel Bortz Published
Beware Fake Disney Plus Emails That Steal Your Bank Information
Fake Disney Plus billing messages enable scammers to access your bank account and drain your funds.
By Ben Demers Published
Romance Scams to Beware — Signs of a Scammer at Work
People seeking love and connection are attractive targets for fraudsters. Avoid these romance scams that prey on your best intentions.
By Ben Demers Published
Banking Scams: Beware Fraudsters Impersonating Your Bank
Scams — and the criminals behind them — are getting more creative in separating victims from their money.
By Ben Demers Published
Free Credit Monitoring for Equifax Breach Victims
credit reports Millions of consumers whose data may have been exposed have been notified to sign up for the monitoring service.
By Lisa Gerstner Published
Scammers Target Last-minute Shoppers
Scams Products may be in short supply, but potential thieves are not. Be “scam smart” to keep your holiday happy.
By Elaine Silvestrini Published
2 Credit Card Gotchas to Watch Out For
credit cards After an infuriating wake-up call with her own credit card company, one financial services consultant wants consumers to know something: It’s smart to pay attention to the details, even if you’ve been using the same credit card for years.
By Deborah S. Bosley, Ph.D. Published
7 Things to Do Right Away If You're a Victim of a Data Breach
credit & debt In today's digital age, data breaches have become all too common and leave unsuspecting consumers vulnerable to a host of identity theft issues.
By Andrea Browne Taylor Published
Look Out for These Scams
Scams Stay alert for phony sales at stores and other tricks.
By Sandra Block Published