Scams soar in 2021

Published 5:21 pm Wednesday, April 6, 2022

The numbers are in. The Federal Trade Commission released its annual compendium of fraud reports from last year, and the news is shocking. Over the past three years, reported losses to consumer fraud has tripled, coming in at a reported $5.9 billion in 2021.

Nearly 6 million U.S. consumers reported a scam last year and the median loss was $500. But the FTC can only tell us about fraud that was reported – we know the losses and number of victims is far higher.

Many factors contribute to under-reporting, including the abundant shame victims feel. This has to change, and it starts with how we talk about fraud victims. Let’s all commit to help change the current narrative that suggests it’s the victim’s fault – she was duped, he was swindled, they fell for it. Focus instead on the crime and the criminal. Let’s ease the emotional burden while making it clear that fraud is a crime and we need our lawmakers and criminal justice system to do more to combat the multi-billion-dollar fraud industry. #notthevictimsfault

To strike back against scammers, AARP Virginia and Fairfax County’s Silver Shield Task Force are working together to empower consumers to spot and avoid scams, and to provide support and guidance to victims and their families when fraud happens. The fifth Annual Scam Jam will provide reliable, up-to-date insights, and connect you to information and resources so you can better protect yourself and loved ones. Register and attend to receive a complimentary copy of Mensa® AARP® Challenging Brain Twisters: 100 Logic and Number Puzzles.

Report scams to local law enforcement. For help from AARP, call 1-877-908-3360 or visit the AARP Fraud Watch Network at www.aarp.org/fraudwatchnetwork.