In every state, in almost every category, fraud is on the rise — and it’s costing people billions of dollars. Our team of analysts found that since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, fraud reports have increased by more than 30%, ultimately costing Americans more than $2.3 billion dollars in 2020.
- Fraud cost Americans more than $2.3 billion in 2020, a 97% increase over 2019.
- Fraud reports increased by 30.1% in the last year.
- Nebraska, South Dakota and Illinois had the largest increases in fraud-related losses.
- Mississippi, Arkansas and Alaska had the largest increases in fraud reports.
- Job opportunity and credit bureau scams are the fastest-rising categories of fraud.
From millions to hundreds of millions of dollars, the increase in fraud has affected every state differently. Nebraska saw the largest increase in fraud-related losses, while California had the highest total loss (over $400 million) and North Dakota lost around $3 million.
|Rank||State||% increase in dollars lost 2019-2020||Total loss in 2020|
While some states experienced sharp increases in the overall dollar amount lost to fraud, others saw rapid increases in the number of fraud reports. We found 20 states where instances of fraud increased by 20% or more. Six states saw decreases in fraud reports but also had some of the biggest increases in fraud-related losses.
|State||% increase in fraud reports 2019-2020||% increase in dollars lost 2019-2020|
Fraud is a broad type of crime, but scams usually fall into one of the categories listed in the table below. Job opportunity, identity theft and credit bureau scams are the fastest-growing types of fraud. But we found an increase in almost every category.
|Category||2019 reports||2020 reports||% increase 2019-2020|
|Online shopping scams||178,863||316,944||77%|
|Banks and lenders||155,894||175,552||12%|
|Prizes, sweepstakes and lotteries||125,181||126,710||1%|
|Internet and computer services||87,404||122,302||39%|
|Business and job opportunities||36,917||88,322||139%|
The marked increase in fraud can be directly tied to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Criminals have used identity theft scams to take advantage of unemployment programs, stimulus payments and other newly created government relief efforts while also preying on people’s financial struggles through job opportunity and credit bureau scams.
A full list of things you can do to protect yourself from identity-theft-related fraud as well as information on identity theft insurance are available on our identity theft guide. There, you can also find a list of how each state has been affected by the increase in identity theft.
This report was compiled using fraud reports sent to the Federal Trade Commission’s Consumer Sentinel Network. Fraud reports were then broken down by state and compared year to year.
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