How to Survive the “Scampocalypse”

Fraud is nothing new…it has been around for about as long as money has been in use. But the last few years have seen a rapid rise in the type, volume, amount, and impact of fraud on everyday consumers. With increasing globalization, digitization, and the increased use of mobile devices for everyday purposes, criminals are able to commit financial crimes more efficiently than ever before, leading some to refer to this age as a “scampocalypse.”
While that term is a bit dramatic, fraud is legitimately on the rise and is affecting major institutions as well as the average consumer. In 2021, the FTC received 2.8 million fraud reports from consumers, with reported losses increasing more than 70 percent over 2020 to more than $5.8 billion! (source)
And it’s not just older individuals that are at risk. In fact, the age group of individuals most likely to be victims of scams is 30-39!
Identity scams are by far the most common overall, with imposter and investment scams high on the list. (source) Cyberattacks and phishing attempts through email, phone, and text are all increasingly common, while ransomware, social engineering, and romance scams are on the rise. The FTC reports that $547 million in losses were attributed to romance scams in 2021, with a median loss per incident globally of around $2,400 and rising! Account takeovers are an emerging form of fraud that social media users are particularly vulnerable to.
So what can you do to protect yourself?
Here’s more info on some common types of scams and some of the latest scams that are growing in popularity in 2022.
One form of fraud that some of our CPA clients have directly experienced is tax-related identity theft. This occurs when someone uses your stolen personal information, including your Social Security number, to file a tax return claiming a fraudulent refund. The best way to avoid this is to file your return as early as possible!
Want to know the warning signs of investment scams? Find your “Fraud IQ” with this online quiz from the Journal of Accountancy.