Americans have lost $145 million to fraud related to Covid-19, according to Federal Trade Commission data.
Consumers have filed more than 205,000 reports of fraud linked to the coronavirus since the beginning of the year, according to the federal agency.
The average loss was $300, according to the FTC. But financial loss among seniors who are at least 80 years old, despite being victimized less frequently than others, was more than double at $655 for the typical person.
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Scammers have used multiple avenues to steal money from unsuspecting Americans, including crimes around financial relief like stimulus checks and unemployment benefits, fake treatments for Covid-19 and fraudulent charities.
“While people are scared about their health and finances, con artists are having a field day,” said Lucy Baker, a consumer Program Associate at the U.S. PIRG Education Fund.
The number of consumer fraud reports has fallen to less than 200 a day, from a peak around 1,000 a day in April and May, according to the FTC.
But the true prevalence of fraud is likely much higher than federal figures suggest, since they don’t reflect scams unreported by consumers.
“We all need to be on our guard,” Baker said. “Before you click, pause first. Do your research and ask yourself if that website, email, text, direct message or call is legit. Be wary of handing over your money or personal information.”