What does it mean to be the victim of consumer fraud?
“Consumer fraud” is defined as deceptive practices that result in financial or other losses for consumers in the course of a seemingly legitimate business transaction. Some well-known types of consumer fraud are identity theft, phishing schemes, and telemarketing schemes. Though typically thought of as scams aimed at the elderly or young adults, recent data shows that victims are common across all age ranges and levels of education.
Does consumer fraud happen often?
According to their best guess, the FTC believes 40 million American consumers (almost 16% of the population) were victims of 62 million instances of fraud in the past twelve months. One reason cases outnumber victims is because many individuals are hit by the same scam multiple times. Truthfully, it’s impossible to know how prevalent consumer fraud is; some victims choose to never tell anyone about their incident due to shame they feel over being tricked. Others simply never realize they’ve been had. All we know for sure is that it is common, happening over one hundred thousand times each day.
Trends in Consumer Fraud
The internet (including email and social media) is the source of the fraudulent offer in half of all reported consumer fraud cases. Interestingly, both internet and social-media based scams have doubled in the past twelve years while email scams have been cut in half. This might be because better junk-mail filters and increased public awareness of common scams (like the Nigerian Prince email phishing scam) are negatively impacting their success rates. It could also be that online grifters have moved their cons over to social media platforms and pop-up ads.
Recently, the types of consumer fraud that occur most frequently are fraudulent weight-loss products, computer-repair scams, or false claims that you owe a government entity money. For the latter two, the information gathered by the thief can open the door to additional identity theft problems.
The Identity Theft Fad
In 2017 alone, 16.7 million people reported cases of identity theft with a total of 16.8 billion dollars stolen. These numbers have risen every year in recent history, and the ever-growing popularity of data breaches from massive corporations suggests this trend is unlikely to fade anytime soon. It isn’t so much that someone has your information, but the covert criminal actions they take with it.
According to data collected in 2019, 60% of the time identity theft occurs, it means someone has used personal data to obtain a credit card, personal or business loan, or automobile loan (or lease). This is one reason experts suggest you check your credit report often – to catch these instances.
Consumer rights attorneys can help you fight back
For victims of consumer fraud, obtaining legal assistance provides the best possible avenue for recouping losses and preventing the same thing from happening again. Our team at The Law Offices of Jeffrey Lohman has experience in handling thousands of cases of consumer fraud including class-action lawsuits, senior-citizen fraud, and recovering from stolen identities. We provide the expertise you need to retaliate against unethical or criminal business practices. No one likes getting ripped-off; let us help you fight back. Contact one of our consumer rights attorneys today.