What Made Consumers Complain to the FTC in 2017?; ICYMI – Amended 1098 Forms Due Tomorrow
Earlier this month, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) published the 2017 Consumer Sentinel Network Data Book, a database compilation of the nearly 2.7 million reports it received by the Consumer Sentinel Network from consumers on problems experienced in the marketplace. Although the number of consumer complaints decreased from 2.98 million in 2016 to 2.68 million in 2017, reported losses to fraud were $905 million in 2017, $63 million more than in 2016. The top three categories reported were: 1) debt collection at 23 percent; 2) identity theft at 14 percent; and 3) imposter scams at 13 percent.
Credit card and tax fraud were the most common type of identity theft reported. As to imposter scam complaints, consumers reported losing $328 million. Nearly one in five people lost money at a $500 median loss. Examples of imposter scams involved someone pretending to be a government official, a technical support expert, a relative in distress or a well-known business to get the consumers to give up their money. Wire transfer continues to be the most widely used form of payment with 70 percent of consumers reporting the scammers contacted them by phone.
New this year, the FTC's data book provides details on fraud losses by age groups. Interestingly enough, more people in their twenties than those over age 70 reported losing money to fraud. Those aged 20-29 reported money fraud losses in 40 percent of reports versus people aged 70 and older in 18 percent of their complaints. However, when older adults lost money the median dollar amount lost was higher than any other age group. For example, the median reported loss for people age 80 and older was $1,092 compared to $400 for those aged 20-29.
The median dollar loss from all reported types of fraud in 2017 was $429. The highest losses were in these fraud categories: travel, vacations and timeshare plans at $1,710; mortgage foreclosure relief and debt management at $1,200; and business and job opportunities at $1,063. Military consumers reported losing the most money to imposter scams costing them nearly $26 million. Identity theft was the largest category reported by military consumers and their median fraud loss of $619 was more than 44 percent higher than the general population.
The FTC data book provides national statistics, a state-by-state listing of the top report categories in each state and a listing of the metropolitan areas that generated the most complaints per individual. Florida, Georgia and Nevada were the top states reporting fraud in 2017. Michigan, Florida and California had the most identity theft reports per individual. The FTC has also developed a mini site to make the information in the data book more accessible for the public, for example there is a webpage provided for each state.
Take a look at what folks in your area were complaining about in 2017. The more you know, the better you are able to help them hang on to their hard earned money.
ICYMI - Amended 1098 Forms Due Tomorrow. Back in January, we blogged on a few tax items including that a bill was pending that might extend certain income tax deductions that had expired for 2017 such as the private mortgage insurance (PMI) deduction. As we blogged a few weeks ago, on February 22, 2018, the IRS issued guidance clarifying that lenders are required to amend their Form 1098 and send amended forms by March 15, 2018. Specifically, Form 1098 must now reflect PMI paid in 2017: