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Impostor scams outpace identity theft cases, FTC finds

By Mark Iandolo | Mar 29, 2017

WASHINGTON (Legal Newsline) — Impostor scam complaints surpassed identity theft as the second most common class of consumer complaints in 2016, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) said in an annual summary report,


The top consumer complaint category was debt collection, though the number of complaints in that category fell slightly between 2015 and 2016. Debt collection complaints represented 28 percent of all complaints, according to the FTC survey data that was released March 3.

Rounding out the top five complaint categories were phone and mobile complaints and bank and lender complaints. The most widely used method for payment by scammers is wire transfer; more than 58 percent of those who reported fraud scams lost their money via a wire transfer.


According to the FTC, the rise in impostor scam complaints can be attributed to an increase in complaints about people posing as government officials. In these instances, scammers pretend to be a trustworthy public official in order to convince consumers to send money.


“Our latest data book shows that impostor scams are a serious and growing problem, and you can be sure that the FTC will use all the tools at its disposal to address it,” said Thomas Pahl, acting director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “That includes law enforcement actions against scammers and consumer education to help consumers avoid losing money.”

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U.S. Federal Trade Commission