FTC Issues Warning: Americans Lose Record $10 Billion to Fraud in 2023

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has sounded the alarm, revealing that Americans collectively lost a staggering $10 billion to fraudsters in 2023, marking a concerning 14% surge in reported losses compared to the previous year. This stark reality is underscored by the researcher, which report a record year for ransomware gangs, with payments reaching an unprecedented $1.1 billion in 2023.

The FTC received over 2.6 million fraud reports from consumers, mirroring figures from the previous year. Of these reports, imposter scams emerged as the most prevalent, with notable spikes observed in instances of business and government impersonation.

Online shopping scams followed closely behind, alongside reports concerning prizes, sweepstakes, lotteries, investment scams, and fraudulent business or job opportunities.

Notably, investment scams inflicted the highest financial toll, totaling over $4.6 billion in reported losses—a staggering 21% increase from 2022. Imposter scams trailed closely, accounting for nearly $2.7 billion in losses. Additionally, consumers reported losing more money to bank transfers and cryptocurrency transactions than all other methods combined.

The FTC bolstered its Consumer Sentinel Network (Sentinel) database with 5.4 million consumer reports last year, with over 1.1 million reports of identity theft received.

However, it’s crucial to acknowledge that these figures likely represent only a fraction of the actual harm inflicted by scammers, as many fraud incidents go unreported.

Victims of fraud are encouraged to report incidents or file identity theft reports. These reports are vital in aiding law enforcement efforts, facilitating the tracking down of fraudsters, and identifying emerging trends to educate the public against scam attempts.

The FTC’s data analysis site offers a comprehensive breakdown of reports received in 2023, including state and metropolitan area statistics, providing valuable insights into the prevalence and impact of fraudulent activities.

The director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, emphasized the concerning trend, stating, “Digital tools are making it easier than ever to target hard-working Americans, and we see the effects of that in the data we’re releasing today.”

To safeguard against fraud, individuals should exercise caution when sharing personal information online, particularly on unfamiliar websites or in response to unsolicited communications. Implementing strong, unique passwords for online accounts, and refraining from clicking on links or downloading attachments from unknown sources can help mitigate the risk of falling victim to fraud. Additionally, staying informed about common scam tactics and promptly reporting any suspected fraudulent activity to the appropriate authorities can aid in combating fraudulent schemes.