By Kristina Payne
The Federal Trade Commission has released a 95-page data book that discloses the amount of fraud reported in 2017. According to the FTC, 1.1 million fraud incidents were reported in the United States, and 29 percent of the people affected were between 20 and 39 years of age. The 70 and older age group comprises just 16 percent of the reported cases.
This is an interesting change. Typically, older consumers have been more susceptible to fraud, but people in the millennial age cohort often have more loan debt, making them more susceptible to debt-collection fraud. The numbers reflect this; the type of fraud most reported was debt collection at 22 percent of all cases, whereas timeshare and vacation fraud was only 0.83 percent of all reported cases.
Notably, the older age group lost more money than the millennials—$621 on average for people aged 70 to 79, versus $400 on average for the younger age group.
The total amount of money lost was $905 million, so fraud clearly remains a problem.
TimeSharing Today has covered fraud-protection tips specific to timesharing in the past. Here are a few more general tips:
- Your bank or loan company will never ask you for personal information over the phone. If you get a phone call from someone who claims to work at your bank, hang up and call the bank yourself. If an issue really does need addressing, you can do it on that second call. If the first call was fraud, your bank will tell you and then you can report the fraud
- Emails are a target for fraudsters, too. Sometimes a fraudster will send a very official-looking email from a bank or other big website, with a link to click on to log into your account. Often these links aren’t to the website they claim to be, but to the fraudster’s own site. If you type in your login credentials, the fraudster can collect and misuse that information. Always check the URL address bar at the top of your web browser to see what website you’re actually on. If it doesn’t match the graphics of the website it claims to be, then it’s a fraudulent website. If you think something might be wrong with one of your accounts, type the address into your web browser yourself, just to be safe.
- Never post anything about your debt or any personal information online. This is the easiest way to get information stolen and to be targeted by fraud schemes. Keeping that information in your private life will help you notice when you get a fraudulent call or email.
- Keep an eye on the news for information about what companies or banks might have been hacked into. Many businesses keep information about credit cards and transactions in their files, which sometimes are at risk. Knowing what companies have been hacked and when you last had an interaction with them is key to knowing if you’re at risk.
The best way to prevent fraud is to be vigilant and careful. This is increasingly useful advice for millennials now that they have become the new prime targets for fraud.
To download the FTC’s data book, visit https://www.ftc.gov/system/files/documents/reports/consumer-sentinel-network-data-book-2017/consumer_sentinel_data_book_2017.pdf.
Kristina Payne is the social-media coordinator for TimeSharing Today.