FTC: Romance scams cost consumers $304M in 2020

Published: Feb. 14, 2021 at 4:18 PM CST
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - New details have been released regarding how much money people are losing to romance scams.

Romance scams are one of the most heart breaking, and the pandemic has pushed numbers to a record high.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) released new information timing it with Valentine’s Day to remind people about fake profiles on dating apps and social media.

According to the FTC, last year, people lost $304 million, with the median loss for a person being $2,500 - more than 10 times higher than all other frauds.

The COVID-19 pandemic has more people distancing, and a whole new slew of stories that scammers can use to put off meeting in person.

Romance scammers draw people in by making up stories to build trust, have a reason for not meeting in-person, and always ask for money.

Plus, officials are warning about a record breaking number of scams and complaints reported to the Better Business Bureau (BBB) of Wisconsin.

“We saw a record number of complaints coming in, a record number of people using our website to check out a company, to write a customer review, to file a scam tracker report. So, this was a year like no other,” said Susan Bach of the Wisconsin BBB.

Bach also discussed how the pandemic fueled a record year.

“Let’s set the stage for 2020 - it was an unprecedented year for unemployment, more people unemployed, more people shopping online, for protective gear to protect themselves from COVID, but also basic household essentials. More people were looking for jobs online,” said Bach. “We saw 20% increase in scam tracker reports from Wisconsin. So last year, Wisconsinites filed more than 6,000 reports to the scam tracker portal. Since it’s inception in 2015, 230,000 reports to scam tracker, so that’s 230,000 consumers who are trying to help their neighbors by warning others about scams.”

In many cases, when people file a complaint with the BBB about a company, they’re looking for help resolving a problem. In 2020, more people were successful getting a response.

“We had an 80% increase in complaints and we had 87% of those are actually responded to by the company. So, it does pay to file a complaint and we can help you almost 90% of the time to get some answers,” said Bach.

The BBB encourages people to post a review - positive, negative, or just details about the work done by a company - it helps others out.

You can check out BBB reviews or their scam tracker online by CLICKING HERE.

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