Study: Utah ranks 11th in nation for losing most to scams

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) — With the help of technology, scammers are tricking Americans out of more money than ever before — and Utah is no exception. In fact, Utah ranks no. 11 in the nation for losing the most to scams.

In the first nine months of 2023, residents in Utah lost $55 million to scams, according to the company LendingTree, a loan-finding marketplace, who used the latest data from the Federal Trade Commission.

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LendingTree found that in 2023, Utahns lost $55.6 million to financial scams, or $16.94 per capita. This was up from $46.6 million lost in 2022 — a 19.4% increase, LendingTree said.

Additionally, they found Utahns filed 19,808 fraud reports, or 603 fraud reports per 100,000 residents. The average amount lost per fraud report was reportedly $2,808.

Nationwide, LendingTree said consumers filed 1.8 million fraud reports in the first nine months of 2023, citing losses of $7 billion.

Imposter scams reportedly accounted for 33.5% of fraud reports, though they weren’t responsible for the highest amount of losses. LendingTree said investment-related fraud accounted for $3.2 billion of the losses in the first nine months of the year, even if it represented only 4.2% of fraud reports over the same period.

According to LendingTree, social media scams were the fifth most commonly reported contact method fraudsters used, causing victims to lose $1 billion. It was most common for fraudsters to contact their victim through email, phone calls, and text messages, LendingTree said.

LendingTree’s chief credit analyst Matt Schulz said for fraudsters, it’s a golden age.

“Very little about our lives isn’t digitalized and accessible online,” Schulz said. “That means most of our important private data, including bank information, is more vulnerable than ever in a lot of ways.”

How to protect yourself against fraud

The FTC says there are four ways to identify a scam:

  • Scammers pretend to be from an organization you know

  • Scammers say there is a problem or prize

  • Scammers will pressure you to act immediately

  • Scammers will tell you to pay in a specific way

Scammers often pretend to be contacting you on behalf of the government, even using technology to change the phone number that appears on your caller ID, the FTC said. Additionally, scammers might say you are in trouble with the government, you owe money, you need to pay fines, etc.

The FTC says scammers want you to act before you have time to think, even going as far as threatening you or saying your computer is about to be corrupted.

To avoid a scam, make sure to block unwanted calls and text messages, don’t give out personal or financial information to untrusted sources, and resist the pressure to act immediately, the FTC said. Additionally, the FTC says to never pay someone who insists you only pay with cryptocurrency, payment apps, or gift cards.

If you think you were scammed or think you saw a scam, tell the FTC at ReportFraud.ftc.gov.

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