Beware: Pandemic-Related Scams Have Cost Consumers Over Half a Billion So Far

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Since the beginning of 2020, COVID-related scams have cost Americans a staggering $586 million, according to data from the Federal Trade Commission. From the onset of the pandemic to Oct. 14, 2021, CNBC reports that Americans have filed more than 269,000 complaints, citing COVID-19, stimulus or other related terms.

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Fraudsters are using a wide array of different schemes, from phishing emails and texts, fake social media posts, robocalls, imposter schemes and more, says AARP. Top fraud reports have been from online shoppers, travelers and others, CNBC adds, with the biggest losses ($81 million) coming from vacation and travel scams. While the average victim lost $392, consumers over the age of 80 lost $1,000 each.

The good news: officials report that pandemic-related scams are on the decline.

According to FTC data and as reported by CNBC, there were only 273 consumer complaints filed on Thursday, the lowest level since March 16, 2020. This is also about eight times less than the 2,100 daily complaints reported in April this year.

Online shoppers reported the most scams at about 57,600 complaints to the FTC. The Better Business Bureau has also issued a warning to online shoppers, saying that online purchase scams now account for more than a third of all scams reports filed with the BBB, and four out of five consumers who report these scams lose money.

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State and local agencies also received pandemic-related complaints, CNBC reports. Complaint types varied, from evictions, canceled events and travel, schools and child care.

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About the Author

Josephine Nesbit is a freelance writer specializing in real estate and personal finance. She grew up in New England but is now based out of Ohio where she attended The Ohio State University and lives with her two toddlers and fiancé. Her work has appeared in print and online publications such as Fox Business and Scotsman Guide.
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