In April the Federal Trade Commission published, “Consumer Fraud in the United States, 2011.”
The report presents findings of a survey commissioned by the agency to examine consumer experiences involving fraud.
This is the first of three columns focusing on report findings.
According to the FTC, the frauds most frequently reported included fraudulent weight-loss products, fraudulent prize promotions, being billed for a buyers’ club membership that one had not agreed to purchase, and being billed for Internet services that one had not agreed to purchase.
Survey data reveal that more consumers were victims of fraudulent weight-loss products than of any of the other frauds studied. About 2.1 percent of consumers, 5.1 million U.S. adults, bought and used such fraudulent weight-loss products during 2011.
Fraudulent prize promotions, the second most common fraud type, affected about 2.4 million U.S. adults – 1 percent of the population.
The third most common type, unauthorized billing fraud, included two distinct services. One involved consumers being billed without permission for buyers’ club memberships designed to permit consumers to purchase products at a lower price. The second involved consumers being billed by a company with which they had not previously done business, and with which they had not agreed to do business, for Internet-related services.
According to the report, about 1.9 million victims – 0.8 percent of the U.S. adult population were victims of unauthorized billing for buyers’ clubs memberships during 2011 (there were a similar number of victims of unauthorized billing for Internet services).
The report is accessible at http://www.ftc.gov/os/2013/04/130419fraudsurvey.pdf.