Fraud can touch individuals and businesses in a wide variety of ways. The Federal Trade Commission recently released its annual report on consumer fraud, and the numbers are eye opening. The report indicates that nearly three million fraud reports were filed, with many of them falling into the fields of debt collection, identity theft and imposter scams. Although most people who reported these frauds were able to protect themselves financially, 21 percent of those reports accounted for more than $900 million in losses. Most people found themselves losing somewhere between $400 and $500 dollars.
A somewhat surprising finding was whom the frauds targeted. According to the report, those between the ages of 20 and 29 appeared to be more trusting, as 40 percent of those in that age group who reported a fraud suffered a loss. That is compared to only 18 percent of those age 70 and older. However, it is worth noting that when older individuals were victimized by fraud, their losses were much larger. In fact, those age 80 and older had a median loss of over $1,000 compared to $400 for those in the 20 to 29 bracket.
If losing a couple hundred dollars to fraud isn’t enough to scare the average consumer, then he or she should consider the wide range of losses felt due to fraud. The report indicated, for example, that last year alone saw more than 10,500 reports of fraud resulting in losses of more than $10,000. That’s enough to cause damage to even those who are pretty well-off.
Regardless of the amount lost to fraud, the truth of the matter is that hard-earned money is being stolen from innocent individuals. This is wholly unacceptable. Although the criminal law may provide an outlet for imposing punitive penalties, it will probably do very little, if anything, to help a fraud victim recover his or her financial losses. However, a civil lawsuit may allow an individual to recoup compensation for damages caused on account of the fraud. Those who want to learn more about how to pursue a civil claim can discuss the matter with an attorney who is skilled in this area of the law.