2021 will go down in our minds as many things, including the year in which more people reported fraud and the highest dollar amount of fraud losses in history. Not a great statistic.

According to the Federal Trade Commission’s Consumer Sentinel Network Data Book 2021 (the Data Book), the FTC received 5.7 million reports from consumers, 2.8 million of whom “described losing more than $5.8 billion to fraud—a $2.4 billion jump in losses in one year.” This is reportedly a 70 percent increase over last year.

We have written about many of those scams, and these statistics show how widespread they are. According to the Data Book, the top three categories of reported fraud included: “1) identity theft; 2) imposter scams; and 3) credit bureaus, info furnishers and report users.”

Interestingly, those aged 20-29 “reported losing money to fraud more often than people ages 80 and over. While younger people lost money 41 percent of the time they experienced fraud, older adults lost money only 17 percent of the time. But when older people did lose money, they lost a median amount of $1500, or three times the median amount younger people lost.”

Another surprising statistic is that use of the telephone was the primary way scammers are contacting consumers to perpetrate a fraud. A whopping 36 percent of the fraud claims commenced with a telephone call. No wonder we get those robocalls—it is paying off for those fraudsters. Stop answering the phone!

According to the Data Book, “The states with the highest per capita rates of reported fraud were Georgia, Maryland, Delaware, Nevada, and Florida. For reported identity theft, the top states in 2021 were Rhode Island, Kansas, Illinois, Louisiana, and Georgia.” Georgia got hit on both ends, and not a great statistic for my Little Rhodey.

The Data Book is 91 pages long and outlines nicely all the ways consumers are getting fleeced by scammers. It is a great way to get up to speed on how the fraudsters work in order to prevent yourself from becoming a victim. My plan is to read the whole thing during this weekend’s snow storm.