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Florida is U.S. scam capital and seniors are the prey, FTC says

When it comes to scams, Florida is still No. 1, according to a new Federal Trade Commission report.

With nearly 2.7 million consumer complaints made to the agency in 2017, the Sunshine State ranked No. 1 for fraud and No. 2 for identity theft, the agency said in a news release. It had the same rankings in 2016.

More than 208,000 consumers in Florida made complaints last year, reporting fraud losses of $54.7 million.

Georgia and Nevada rounded out the top three states reporting fraud per 100,000 in population. For identity theft, it was Michigan, Florida and California.

The top categories were debt collection, impostor scams, identity theft, phone and mobile, and banks and lenders, according to the latest FTC Data Book, which compiles statistics from complaints made directly to the commission. Statistics include complaints made to state and federal law enforcement agencies, the Better Business Bureau, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and PrivacyStar, an app that blocks robocalls, among others.

Eleven Florida cities were among the 50 metropolitan areas ranked for fraud: Homosassa Springs was first, Ocala was third, Tampa was fourth and Gainesville was fifth. Miami came in at 12 and Orlando at 24.

There were 10 Florida cities that made the list of top 50 metro areas reporting identity theft: Miami came in fourth and Orlando was seventh.

Complaints were down in 2017 (there were 2.98 million in 2016), but successful scams were up. Consumers reported losing a total of $905 million to fraud last year — an increase of $63 million over 2016. Median losses were $429. Of fraud categories, travel, vacations and time share losses were tops, with $1,710 in median losses.

The preferred method used by fraudsters was the telephone. Consumers mostly paid for frauds by wire transfer.

Debt collection, which declined slightly between 2015 and 2016, remained the top category with 859,000 complaints.

This is the first year complaints about impostor scams (406,0000) surpassed identity theft (399,000). Telephone and mobile services garnered 292,000 complaints, while banks and lenders got 144,000. Prizes and sweepstakes, catalog sales, auto-related, credit bureaus, and TV and electronic media rounded out the top 10.

In the identity theft category, credit card fraud was tops with 139,000 reports, and tax fraud was down 46 percent with 63,000 reports. There were $74 million in credit card losses, but those charges can potentially be disputed and recovered, if done in time.

This year, the FTC broke down numbers by age. Tricksters were most successful with senior citizens. Those age 19 and younger lost an average of $262; those 80 and older lost about $1,090.

The agency reminded consumers that the government will not ask consumers to wire money, and that it is illegal for telemarketers to ask you to pay by wire.

For more on the report, go to

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