Advance fee loans were listed among the top 10 varieties of consumer fraud by the Federal Trade Commission in a report issued Jan. 22.
Land Line has written several stories about truckers who have had difficulties with advance fee finance companies, including several who have lost thousands of dollars in downpayments. Others were left with high-interest loans, and one trucker lost his truck.
The median loss for victims of fraud in the FTC study was $228. The median loss for victims of fraud that was related to the Internet was $195.
The top 10 categories of consumer fraud complaints in 2003 include:
- Internet auctions, 15 percent;
- Shop-at-home/catalog sales, 9 percent;
- Internet services and computer complaints, 6 percent;
- Prizes, sweepstakes and lotteries, 5 percent;
- Foreign money offers, 4 percent;
- Advance fee loans and credit protections, 4 percent;
- Telephone services, 3 percent;
- Business opportunities and work-at-home plans, 2 percent;
- Magazine buyers club, 1 percent; and
- Office supplies and services, 1 percent.
Of the 516,740 complaints received by the Federal Trade Commission in 2003, 301,835 were complaints about fraud, according to the FTC report.
Internet-related complaints accounted for 55 percent of these fraud reports, up from 45 percent in 2002.
In addition to the complaints consumers register directly with the FTC, other organizations, including the FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, The National Consumers League's National Fraud Information Center, Canada's Phonebusters, and Better Business Bureaus contribute complaint data to the FTC's Consumer Sentinel database.
Copies of the FTC report, “National and State Trends in Fraud and Identity Theft,” can be found online at www.consumer.gov/sentinel/pubs/Top10Fraud2003.pdf.
To file a complaint, or to get free information on any of 150 consumer topics, call 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357), or use the complaint form at www.ftc.gov.