Published: October 2007

FTC Releases Second Fraud Survey

More than 30 million adults in the United States — 13.5 percent of the adult population of the country — were victims of certain scams during a 12-month period from 2004 to 2005, according to a newly released survey from the Federal Trade Commission.

As in its first fraud survey, published in 2004, the FTC asked people about their experiences with several specific types of fraud as well as two general types of fraud: paid for something and never received it; and billed for something never agreed to purchase.

In the most recent survey, the specific types of fraud included four that were not in the earlier one, and some of the questions were changed, making it difficult to compare the results of the two surveys.

Among the specific types of fraud in the newest survey, the top ones to which consumers fell victim concerned: weight-loss products; foreign lotteries; buyers clubs; prize promotions; credit card insurance; Internet services; advance fee loans; credit repair; and business opportunities.

Most of the solicitations were made with print advertising (27 percent, including direct mail, newspaper and magazine ads, catalogues, posters and flyers), online advertising (22 percent, including Web sites and emails) and broadcast advertising (21 percent, including television and radio). Only nine percent were made by telemarketing.

When asked if they had experienced either of the two general types of fraud (not counting any incidents involving the specific fraud types), nearly 7 percent of the survey respondents said that they had paid for something they never received, and 5 percent said they had been billed for something they never agreed to purchase.

People age 18 to 34 were more likely to be victims of the frauds covered in the survey than those aged 65 or older. The survey also revealed that vulnerability to certain types of fraud varied according to race and ethnicity. Overall, Hispanics and African Americans were more likely to be victimized than non-Hispanic whites. However, most Hispanic victims said that they were comfortable with English, so language does not appear to be a major factor in vulnerability.

Perhaps not surprising given the fact that many of the specific types of scams covered in the survey involve promises to win, borrow or earn money, people who felt they had more debt than they could comfortably handle were most likely to have been victimized.

Click here to view the full survey report.

This article was provided by Focus on Fraud, a publication of The National Consumers League’s Alliance Against Fraud.

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