More Individuals Are Falling Victim to Scammers Than Ever Before – Here’s How to Protect Yourself

by Madison Thomas
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fokus keyword: scams

Technology’s advancement has allowed con artists to deceive Americans and part them from their hard-earned money more than they ever have previously. However, there are proactive measures that can be taken to guard your finances and personal information.

In the year 2022, the Federal Trade Commission reports that consumers saw losses amounting to $8.8 billion due to fraudulent activities, marking a 30 percent escalation from 2021. The most significant drain came from investment frauds, such as those linked to cryptocurrencies, draining more than $3.8 billion from people’s pockets, a figure that doubled from the previous year.

According to the FTC, adults in their 20s reported losing money to scams more frequently than those in the 70-79 age group. The latter, though, lost more when they were victimized, likely because scammers targeted their savings, pensions, life insurance, and properties.

In today’s digital age, swindlers can reach potential victims through various channels, including social media, texts, phone calls, and emails. The proliferation of online payment systems, apps, and marketplaces has also increased the risks, though many fraudulent tactics remain consistent.

Kathy Stokes, the AARP Fraud Watch Network’s director of fraud prevention, explains that scammers often initiate contact by creating a sense of urgency or heightened emotions. This can range from fear to excitement, like winning a large sum of money.

Amanda Clayman, a financial therapist working with Zelle on fraud-related matters, emphasizes pausing and thinking when confronted with urgency, as it’s typically a sign to proceed cautiously.

To ensure the security of your finances and information, it’s important to be aware of these common scams:

  • Robocalls and Texts: These often target the elderly or those in debt. If you receive an unsolicited recorded message or text from an unfamiliar number, just hang up or ignore the message.
  • Impersonations: Scammers may pose as authorities or even loved ones to solicit immediate financial aid.
  • Romance Scams: Will Maxson of the FTC warns against romance scams that prey on lonely individuals, sometimes over long periods.

For email and text scams, James Lee of the Identity Theft Resource Center advises against clicking on suspicious links and urges verification through official channels. In 2022, text scams alone led to losses exceeding $326 million.

Other red flags include:

  • Gift Card Payments: Both Maxson and Lee agree that any request for payment via gift cards is a surefire warning.
  • Social Media Scams: These may involve investment opportunities or quizzes that lead to personal information theft.
  • Marketplace Scams: Whether buying or selling on platforms like Instagram or Facebook Marketplace, be cautious with whom you deal.

The report, supported by the Charles Schwab Foundation for educational purposes, stresses the importance of diligence, awareness, and verification to keep your money and personal information secure. Responsibility for the journalism rests solely with the AP.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about fokus keyword: scams

What were the total reported consumer losses to fraud in 2022?

In 2022, reported consumer losses to fraud totaled $8.8 billion, a 30 percent increase from 2021, according to the Federal Trade Commission.

Which age group reported losing money more often to scams?

Younger adults ages 20-29 reported losing money more often to scams than older adults ages 70-79, according to the FTC.

What advice is given for handling unsolicited robocalls or suspicious texts?

If you receive a robocall or text from an unfamiliar number, the recommendation is to hang up or ignore the message, and if needed, call the company or institution at an official number for verification.

What is a common red flag when someone asks for payment?

Any mention of payment with gift cards should be a glaring warning alarm, as no legitimate company or individual will ask for payment using gift cards.

How can people protect themselves from social media or online marketplace scams?

For social media or online marketplace scams, it’s advised to research the company or individual independently, verify information through official channels, and be cautious of investment opportunities or quizzes that might lead to personal information theft.

What were the losses from scam texts alone in 2022?

In 2022, consumers lost more than $326 million from scam texts, according to the Federal Trade Commission.

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