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Detecting and Reporting Phone and Online Scams (AkLA 2022): Home

Introduction

This a companion guide to a presentation done at the 2022 Alaska Library Association Annual Conference. People who review this guide will:

  • have information on extent of the problem of phone/online fraud in Alaska and the United States;
  • be acquainted with some common scams and know where to find examples of other scams;
  • have learned ways to detect scams;
  • know where to report incidents of encounters with scammers, whether or not there is a financial impact, and;
  • have basic information on protecting themselves and people they care about from scams.

Phone and Online Scams are costing Alaskans and Others Money

All of the facts and graphics in this section are from Consumer Sentinel Network Data Book 2020 published by the Federal Trade Commission.

Imposter Fraud accounted for 13% of fraud losses for Alaskans.

In 2020, Alaska made 5,367 fraud reports with a total loss of 5.7 million dollars, with the median loss being $500. It was ranked 29th in the nation for instances of fraud per 100,000 people.

There were 4.7 million fraud reports in 2020 for the U.S. 34% of these reports had monetary losses.

Nationally, the FTC had this to say about all types of scams in 2020:

There were over 498,000 imposter scam reports to Sentinel. Twenty-two percent of those reported a dollar loss, totaling nearly $1.2 billion lost to imposter scams in 2020. These scams include, for example, romance scams, people falsely claiming to be the government, a relative in distress, a well-known business, or a technical support expert, to get a consumer’s money.

Of the nearly 2.2 million fraud reports, 34% indicated money was lost. In 2020, people reported losing more than $3.3 billion to fraud–an increase of nearly $1.5 billion over 2019.

The median loss for all fraud reports in 2020 is $311. Among the top 10 frauds reported, the median Individual losses were highest in these categories:

  • Foreign Money Offers and Counterfeit Check Scams ($1,980)
  • Business and Job Opportunities ($1,950)
  • Investment Related ($1,566)

The number of fraud and related reports has grown from 0.33 million in 2001 to 4.72 million in 2020, a 1400% increase.

The amount of fraud has been growing rapidly for the past two decades and shows no signs of slowing down. That's why it is important to arm our patrons and staff with the means to detect scams, resist them and report them.