Looks like consumers are still falling for wire email scams. The Federal Trade Commission released statistics about the complaints it received in 2011 and identity theft/fraud tops the list for the 12th consecutive year. Debt collection came in second place.
Forty-three percent (43%) of consumers complaints reported that email was the initial point of contact for the fraud (29% of fraud contact was via phone and 13% through the internet). Of consumers who were defrauded out of money, 50% complained of wire fraud, 16% credit card fraud, and 13% bank account/debit card fraud.
Sixty-eight percent (68%) of consumers included a payment amount with their report. The average consumer paid $2,267 related to the fraud and a median amount of $537. Of those who reported a payment amount, 51% say they paid nothing at all and 18% paid more than $1,001.
Wire scams have become trickier over the past few years with different spins on Nigerian scam. For example, the stranded traveler scam tricks victims into wiring money to friends or family members who are traveling in Europe and have misplaced their wallets or have been mugged. In reality, your loved ones' email or Facebook accounts have been hacked.
It's hard to decipher what's real and what's not. The best guidelines is not to wire money in response to an email or phone call until you've confirmed and reconfirmed the person's true identity.
Identity Theft Complaints
The most common identity theft reported was government documents and benefits fraud (27%), particularly tax or wage-related fraud (24.1%). Second most common was credit card fraud (14%), followed by phone/utilities fraud (13%), and bank fraud (9%).
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