A new Federal Trade Commission study released last week shows internet crime was experienced by 25.6 million adults – 10.8% of the adult population in 2011. This includes email, social media, auction sites and classified ads, followed by print advertising, then TV and radio. This survey was conducted in late 2011 and early 2012 with the FTC calling 51,192 “working telephone numbers, the first study on this topic since 2005.
The top 10 fraud categories were:
Weight-loss Products, Prize Promotions, Unauthorized Billing for Buyers’ Club Memberships, Unauthorized Billing for Internet Services, Work-at-Home Programs, Credit Repair, Debt Relief, Credit Card Insurance, Business Opportunities and Mortgage Relief.
Print media – direct mail solicitations, newspaper or magazine advertisements, and posters or flyers came in second, accounting for almost 20% of incidents. This was a decline of about 8% points since 2005. Telemarketing was the source of information in just under 10% of incidents, a figure that was almost the same as 2005.
Orders were placed using the Internet in almost 40% of fraudulent incidents in 2011, an increase of 20% since the 2005 survey. Orders were placed by telephone in another 30% of incidents. The percentage of orders placed by mail decreased from just over 20% to 12%, while orders at the sellers’ place of business fell from around 16% to 12%.
Credit cards were used in 56% – of fraudulent transactions with an additional 15% coming from checking accounts.
Work-at-home programs ranked fifth, with an estimated 1.8 million victims – 0.7 % of the adult population.
An estimated 17.3% of African Americans, 13.4% of Hispanics and 9% non- Hispanic whites were victims.
Those who did not complete high school, those recently unemployed and those who had recently experienced a negative life event were much more likely to have been victims. Consumers who had more debt than they could handle were significantly more likely to have been fraud victims than those who were comfortable with their debt.