When it comes to online scams, the U.S. is the most scammed country in the world according to a recent report.1 The good news is, with the right information, you can keep your money and your information safe.
Who gets scammed the most?
With an astounding 466,501 online scams in 2022, the U.S. leads the world as the country with the most scam victims per year. Of the 50 states, California had the most online scam victims in 2022, at 80,766. North Dakota takes the prize for the lowest number of scam victims at just 703.
Among age groups, teens and children have seen the largest percentage increase in money lost. Victims in the under-20 age group lost $210 million in 2022, compared to $8.2 million in 2017. Seniors still hold the place as the most victimized group, though, with their overall losses totaling $3.1 billion.
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How much money was lost to scams?
A record $10.3 billion was lost to online scams in 2022, up from $6.9 billion in 2021. This was an increase of 277% from $2.7 billion in 2017, according to the FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center. When factoring in estimated unreported scams, the total money lost to online scams in 2022 jumps to $200 billion. In addition, the average loss per victim per incident was $12,859, up from $8,142 in 2021.
Unfortunately, only 4.2% of stolen funds were recovered.
Where are people getting scammed?
According to the report, most online scams happen on Facebook (32%), Google Hangouts/Chat (16%), WhatsApp (16), Plenty of Fish (16%) and Instagram (14%).
How to avoid scams
Keep your money and your information safe with these protective measures:
- Never share personal information online or over the phone. Call back the company using the customer service number listed on your statements or the back of your credit/debit card.
- Never click on embedded links or download attachments from emails sent by unknown contacts (may contain malware).
- Keep the security on your devices updated and at its strongest settings.
- Use strong and unique passwords for each of your accounts.
- Watch for red flags. In websites, ads and emails, watch for poor grammar or typos; lack of a physical address and phone number; claims of being in the military and/or working overseas; demands to be paid by wire transfer, gift card or in cryptocurrency; and web addresses that are similar to a reputable company’s web address.
- Be careful when shopping online. Watch for fake websites and ads before entering personal information. Instead of clicking on a link in an ad, go to the retailer's website to make the purchase.
- Beware of payment apps scams. Only send money to people you know and trust when using payment apps like PayPal, Cash App or Zelle. Keep in mind, these types of payments are like using cash and typically do not offer any payment protection.
- Never wire or send money to an unknown party.
- Limit the amount of personal information you share on social media and choose the strongest privacy settings for your social media accounts.
- Avoid doing sensitive transactions like accessing your bank account or paying bills online on public Wi-Fi. Cyber criminals can intercept your information by creating fake wireless hotspots that seem real.
- Never accept a job or pay for a purchase or service without researching the company involved.
For more information on how to recognize scams and reporting scams, visit the Federal Trade Commission website.
1 Source: Social Catfish