Imposter scams surpass identity theft consumer complaints

Imposter scams are a serious and growing problem, being the second most reported by consumers in 2016 as reported by the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) annual data book summary, Consumer Sentinel Network Data Book for January – December 2016.  What exactly is an imposter scam?  When a person pretending to be a friend, family, romantic interest, computer technician, a representative of a company or government agency persuades the victim to send money or reveal personal information.  According to the FTC report, complaints included: scammers posing as friends or relatives stranded in foreign countries without money; scammers claiming to be working for or affiliated with a government agency; scammers claiming to be a computer technician offering unnecessary software services; and scammers claiming to be affiliated with a private entity (e.g. a charity or company).  Imposter scams also topped the list of complaints from military consumers followed by identity theft complaints.  The most widely reported method of payment for money lost to fraud was by wire transfer. Of those who noted in their fraud complaint how they were first contacted, 77 percent said it was by phone.

Although debt collection complaints declined slightly between 2015 and 2016, it still was the top consumer complaint category.   The top ten complaint categories for 2016:

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