Imposter scams move up on FTC list of top consumer complaints

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Imposter scams move up on FTC list of top consumer complaints
Imposter scams move up on FTC list of top consumer complaints

The Federal Trade Commission's list of top consumer complaints has a new No. 2: imposter scams, according to a new report from the agency.

In such schemes, a scammer pretends to be someone trustworthy, such as a government official or computer technician, to convince a consumer to send money.

Scams involving people pretending to be IRS agents were by far the most common type reported to the Senate Special Committee on Aging's fraud hotline in 2016, accounting for 74% of complaints, according to a recently published report from the committee. Computer tech scams, a separate category for the Aging Committee, were No. 4 on its list. Seniors often are targeted for such fraud, government officials say.

Phony IRS agents and other imposter scams are among the fastest-growing complaints to state and local consumer protection agencies, according to a report issued in July by the Consumer Federation of America and the North American Consumer Protection Investigators.

Debt collection complaints remained at the top of the latest FTC list, accounting for 28% of all complaints, although the incidence declined slightly from 2015 to 2016.

The FTC list includes complaints made directly by consumers to the FTC as well as complaints received by state and federal law enforcement agencies, national consumer protection organizations and nongovernmental organizations. The Consumer Sentinel Network Data Book of which it is part also includes national statistics as well as a listing of top complaint categories in each state and a listing of metropolitan areas that generated the most complaints per capita. The FTC's Consumer Sentinel Network collected more than 3.1 million consumer complaints in 2016.

See the whole FTC complaint list here.

Suspected fraud can be reported to the FTC at www.ftc.gov/complaint or 877-FTC-HELP and to the Senate Aging Committee at 855-303-9470 or www.aging.senate.gov/fraud-hotline.

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