The 10 biggest scams that cost Americans nearly $1 billion in 2017

Debt collection fraud topped the list for the third year in a row.

ByABC News
March 1, 2018, 4:35 PM

— -- Americans were defrauded of $905 million in 2017, $63 million more than in 2016, according to the Federal Trade Commission’s annual report of top U.S. consumer complaints.

The data — which includes reports made directly from consumers to the FTC as well as other state and federal law enforcement agencies, national consumer protection organizations and non-governmental organizations — reveals some interesting trends.

Debt collection fraud, in which scammers pose as collection agents to trick people into giving them money for false debts, topped the list for the third year in a row, making up about 23 percent of all complaints. Identity theft and tax fraud also generated a significant number of complaints.

The country’s top hotspots for fraud in 2017 were Florida, Georgia and Nevada, and most scammers — 70 percent — asked for the money over the phone.

For the first time ever, the FTC categorized consumer fraud losses by age, and the data indicates that younger Americans, particularly those in their 20s, are more than twice as likely to report losing money to fraud than those aged 70 or older.

“It is clear that older Americans are doing a great job of identifying and reporting fraud,” said Tom Pahl, acting director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “They’re being very vigilant about it.”

Older Americans typically report losing more money than their younger counterparts, however.

Overall, consumers reported a median loss of $429 in 2017, but military consumer losses ($619) were higher than that of the general population, and losses by people who reported traveling ($1,710) were even more significant.

The list of the top 10 consumer complaints is copied below:

1. Debt Collection (608,535)

2. Identity Theft (371,061)

3. Imposter Scams (347,829)

4. Telephone and Mobile Services (149,578)

5. Banks and Lenders (149,316)

6. Prizes, Sweepstakes and Lotteries (142,870)

7. Shop-at-Home and Catalog Sales (126,387)

8. Credit Bureaus, Information Furnishers and Report Users (107,473)

9. Auto Related (86,289)

10. Television and Electronic Media (47,456)