Filed Under:  Business

African Americans are top victims of fraud

29th June 2015   ·   0 Comments

By Frederick H. Lowe
Contributing Writer

(Special from NorthStar News Today) – African Americans are the leading victims of fraudulent transactions compared to Hispanics and whites, which costs unsuspecting consumers billions of dollars annually, according to the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, which promotes consumer protection.

“Consumer Fraud in the United States, 2011: The Third FTC Survey,” published in 2013, reported that 17.3 percent of Blacks said they were victims of fraudulent transactions, compared to 13.4 percent of Hispanics, nine percent of Non-Hispanic whites and 6.2 percent of Asians.

The FTC surveyed 3,638 individuals by telephone in late 2011 and early 2012 to come up with its results. The survey focused on fraudulent transactions that generated the most complaints.

The most frequently reported schemes, included weight-loss products, prize promotions, being billed for a buyers’ club membership that one had not agreed to purchase, being billed for Internet services that one had not agreed to purchase, and fraudulent work-at-home programs.

Someone becomes a victim of a fraudulent transaction when he or she is deceived and doesn’t get what he or she paid for.

The FTC Consumer Sentinel Network Data Book reported that consumers lost a total of $1.7 billion, or an average of $498 per person in 2014 through fraudulent transactions, Todd Kossow, assistant director of the FTC’s Midwest Region in Chicago, told NorthStar News Today.

A group of panelists from the FTC Midwest Region, FTC Division of Consumer and Business Education, Better Business Bureau of Chicago and Northern Illinois, Chicago Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection, Illinois Attorney General’s Office discussed fraud and scams during a conference held yesterday at Columbia College in Chicago. A victim of consumer fraud also participated in the panel.

The discussion was organized by the FTC, Community Media Workshop at Columbia College and New America Media, which is based in San Francisco.

Wednesday’s meeting was held as part of a five-city tour to educate the ethnic media about different kinds fraud so they can write about it for their readers and provide them leads in finding help, said Sandy Close, executive director of New America Media and the event’s host. The other cities are Los Angeles, Atlanta, Cleveland and Seattle.

Jennifer Leach, assistant director of the FTC’s Division of Consumer and Business Education, told the audience comprised of consumer advocates, lawyers, reporters and journalism students that 2.6 million complaints were filed with FTC last year. That figure, however, includes fraud, identity theft and other types of complaints, Kossow said.

The number of filed complaints is much lower than the estimated number of fraudulent transactions. During 2011, an estimated 10.8 percent of U.S. adults – 25.6 million people – were victims of one or more fraudulent transactions, according to the 2011 FTC Consumer Fraud Survey.

African Americans represent the highest number of victims of fraudulent transactions.

They are also victims of weight-loss promotions, prize promotions, debt-related fraud and income-related fraud. Blacks are also victims of schemes involving work-at-home scams, promises to find government jobs, payday loan offers, pyramid schemes and finding new business opportunities.

This article originally published in the June 29, 2015 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper.

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