New Report Highlights Consumer Fraud at All-Time High In 2016
According to a new report released, approximately 15.4 million consumers were victims of fraud or identity theft in 2016; a 16 percent increase from the previous year, and the highest figure on record since the report producers started tracking these statistics in 2004.
The highest increase (up 40 percent) occurred with transactions made online or over the phone (where the physical credit card does not need to be present), following by account takeover fraud (stealing login information) and new fraudulent accounts being created in consumers’ names. Overall, the report found that thieves stole $16 billion in 2016, an increase of approximately one billion dollars from the previous year.
Online Vs. Offline
However, thanks to fraud protection and early detection, consumers have managed to minimize financial damage to themselves and spend less on out-of-pocket expenses. Specifically, most victims detect fraudulent activity with online purchases within one week of it first occurring. Although shoppers with a heavy online presence via social media were also more likely to be targeted by thieves, online consumers in general– by spotting fraud within a week of it happening (versus 40 days for those who are offline)–prevented more financial damage.
If you haven’t already, make sure that you:
- Establish alerts with your financial institutions;
- Consider third-party budgeting apps, which also sometimes flag unusual spending;
- Keep tabs via ordering credit reports;
- Create complex passwords and change them from time-to-time; and
- (If you want to prevent anyone from being able to open up new lines of credit in your name), place a credit freeze with Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian (but note that this is also a drastic measure).
Recently, a settlement in the amount of close to $8,000,000 for consumers was reached as the result of a multistate investigation into consumer complaints over Western Union’s wire transfer service. Consumers complained that the company’s wire transfer service was used to send money to third parties involved in schemes to defraud consumers.
The settlement—which includes Florida—requires Western Union to develop an anti-fraud program so as to detect and prevent incidents it must include:
- Placing anti-fraud warnings on “send forms” that consumers use to wire funds;
- Training and education concerning fraud-induced wire transfers for Western Union agents;
- Heightened anti-fraud procedures (when warranted);
- Due diligence checks on and monitoring of Western Union agents who process the money transfers; and
- Prompt disciplinary action taken against any Western Union agents who fail to follow anti-fraud measures.
Contact our Boca Raton Consumer Fraud Protection Attorneys
Protection from consumer fraud is one of the most common areas of commercial litigation. There are numerous commercial laws designed to protect you as a consumer—and/or your business—from harmful practices.
Lavalle, Brown & Ronan, P.A. have a combined 130 years of experience working in commercial law in Florida and protecting consumers who are victims of fraud. Contact us today for a free consultation and find out how we can help you.