Newly released data from the Federal Trade Commission reveals that there has been a surge in reports from people who say they lost money to a scam that started on social media, including a spike of these complaints in the spring at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Data released by the FTC shows that the number of complaints about scams that started on social media have more than tripled in the last year. People reported losing more than $117 million to this type of scam in just the first six months of 2020, as compared to $134 million for all of 2019, according to the FTC’s latest Consumer Protection Data Spotlight.
Online shopping topped the list of complaints from consumers who reported a scam to the FTC that originated on social media. Of these consumers, many were responding to an ad they saw on social media and reported that the item they ordered never arrived. Most of those consumers — approximately 94 percent — who identified the social media service in their complaint cited Facebook or Instagram as the platform they used.
Other top consumer complaints about social media scams related to romance scams or economic relief or income opportunities, which often target people who have lost a job or other income because of the pandemic. About half of all romance scam reports to the FTC since 2019 involve social media, usually on Facebook or Instagram.
For more information and tips on how to avoid being scammed while on social media, check out the FTC’s data spotlight. The Federal Trade Commission works to promote competition, as well as protect and educate consumers. You can learn more about consumer topics and file a consumer complaint online or by calling 1-877-FTC-HELP (382-4357).