Consumer Sentinel Network Data Book 2017: Executive Summary


During 2017, the Consumer Sentinel Network took in nearly 2.7 million reports, down slightly from 2016:

  • Fraud: 1.1 million (42.54% of all reports)
  • Identity theft: 371,000 (13.87%)
  • Other: 1.2 million (43.59%)

There are fewer debt collection reports in 2017 (23% of all reports) but it is still the top category. Identity theft (14%) and imposter scams (13%) round out the top three reports to Sentinel.

There were nearly 348,000 imposter scam reports to Sentinel. One in five of those also reported a dollar loss, totaling $328 million lost to imposter scams. These scams include, for example, people falsely claiming to be with the government, a relative in distress, a well-known business, or a technical support expert, to get a consumer’s money.

Of the 1.1 million fraud reports, 21% indicated money was lost. In 2017, people reported losing nearly $905 million to fraud – an increase of $63 million over what consumers reported losing in 2016.

The median loss for all fraud reports in 2017 is $429. The median losses were highest in these fraud categories:

  • Travel, Vacations and Timeshare Plans                          $1,710
  • Mortgage Foreclosure Relief and Debt Management     $1,200
  • Business and Job Opportunities                                     $1,063

Telephone was the method of contact for 70% of fraud reports with a contact method identified. Only nine percent of those people reported losing money to the scammer – but that 9% reported an aggregate loss of $290 million, and a $720 median loss.

Wire transfers continue to be the most frequently-reported payment method for fraud, with a reported loss of $333 million.

Of people who reported their age, those aged 20-29 reported losing money to fraud in 40% of reports filed with the FTC, while people aged 70 and older reported losing money in just 18% of their complaints. But when they did experience a loss, people aged 70 and older reported much higher median losses than any other age group.

Identity Theft
Credit card fraud tops the list of identity theft reports in 2017. The FTC received more than 133,000 reports from people who said their information was misused on an existing account or to open a new credit card account.

Military consumers filed nearly 114,000 reports in 2017. Of these, more than 50,000 were fraud reports, including 29,859 reports about imposter scams that cost them nearly $26 million. Identity theft (30,184) was the largest single category of reports from military consumers.

Top States
The states with the highest per capita rates of fraud reports in 2017 were Florida, Georgia, Nevada, Delaware, and Michigan. For identity theft, the top states in 2017 were Michigan, Florida, California, Maryland, and Nevada.