CONSUMER PROTECTION & FRAUD: An Overview
Consumer fraud is on the rise, even though the level of consumer transactions has remained fairly stable over the last few years. A study conducted by LexisNexis Risk Solutions, demonstrated that the number of fraudulent transactions from merchants has increased from 80 per month in 2012, to 206 per month in 2016. This is a 157.5% increase in just four years! And, even though the number of prevented fraudulent transactions has spiked, the average monthly value of successful fraudulent transactions was still a staggering $146 million each month.
Experts estimate that consumer fraud costs the U.S. economy between $40 to $50 billion, every year. These figures however, only account for fraud on the retail level; there are several other categories of fraud, such as healthcare and tax fraud that can push the numbers into an astronomical range.
In 2015 alone, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) the body charged with oversight and enforcement of consumer protections laws, collected 3,083,379 consumer complaints. Here are the Top 10 consumer complaints received by the FTC in order of volume:
- Debt Collection 897,655 29 percent
- Identity Theft 490,220 16 percent
- Imposter Scams 353,770 11 percent
- Telephone and Mobile Services 275,754 9 percent
- Prizes, Sweepstakes and Lotteries 140,136 5 percent
- Banks and Lenders 131,875 4 percent
- Shop-At-Home and Catalog Sales 96,363 3 percent
- Auto-Related Complaints 93,917 3 percent
- Television and Electronic Media 47,728 2 percent
- Credit Bureaus, Information Furnishers and Report Users 43,939 1 percent
What should you do if you are worried that you have fallen prey to false, deceptive or misleading claims by a merchant? The first step is to get informed, check out our Resources page and speak with a lawyer at Vision Legal, Inc., who knows consumer fraud and consumer protection laws. We understand the complexities of navigating state and federal consumer laws and can help you look out for yourself and your legal rights.
Source: FTC: Fraud Data Book 2015