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FTC: Americans Lost Nearly $500M To COVID Fraud

The proliferation of fraud and scams involving COVID-19 has dealt heavy fiscal blows to Americans’ wallets, according to data from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), per Public Tableau.

U.S. residents have seen $487.92 million lost overall to fraudsters since January 2020, the data showed. There were 544,092 reports through Thursday (July 8), and the median fraud loss was $366.

Broken down by type, the majority of the reports were about fraud, with 326,974 in that category, followed by 134,973 “other” reports, 68,262 for identity theft and 16,048 “do not call” scams.

The top reports tended to be about online shopping, with 52,624 in that category, along with 42,155 vacation and travel-related reports, 16,887 credit reports, 14,489 related to diet products, plants and centers, and 13,903 related to credit cards.

The data is also broken down in terms of months, with particularly high spikes of activity in January and April this year.

And in terms of some of the more highly-populated states, California saw 25,668 fraud reports, Texas saw 25,546, Florida saw 16,625 and New York saw 33,247.

According to the FBI, the way banks are dealing with the current rise in cybercrime has been inefficient and even harmful at times, with banks often not having evolved to where they’re always able to tell between fraudsters and legitimate users, PYMNTS reported. Instead, they often just shut down whole accounts if there looks to be fraud happening, which isn’t always the case.

Cybercriminals, on the other hand, have become more savvy on how to trick financial entities into thinking they’re real users instead of fraudsters. They do that through stealing data and mimicking users’ online personalities.

An FBI spokesperson said banks “need to be more understanding toward the customer, instead of [saying,] ‘Oh, we will just shut everything down.’ The reason they cannot do that is the criminals are literally cloning who you are right down to a tee — you would not know if it was me or if it was Joe down the street.”

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