Non-Internet Related Consumer Fraud
Although Internet fraud is the most common type of consumer fraud, it only accounts for 46% of all consumer fraud complaints. The remaining 54% of all consumer fraud complaints are made up of a variety of different industries. Large chain companies now exist to provide the services that were previously provided by “mom and pop” or family owned individual businesses. Dry cleaners, movie theaters, movie rental facilities, etc. are just some of the businesses now owned for the most part by large enterprises.
While there are those consumers who do not notice small additional charges, there are countless others who simply do not care about it. A nickel means very little to most individuals; however, the nickels add up when one considers that the fraud is carried out by large-scale chain companies, routinely affecting tens of thousands of individuals at any given time.
Lawyers can help to protect consumers from this type of hidden fraud by targeting the responsible companies. If a consumer is aware of the fraud and wins a settlement against the liable company, then the consumer may be eligible to receive punitive payments in addition to compensation for losses.
Internet Usage Fraud
Consumer fraud is documented on a national level by the Consumer Sentinel, a relatively new program funded by the Federal Trade Commission. Since its inception in 1997, the Consumer Sentinel program has documented more than three million consumer fraud and identity theft complaints, most of which were associated with Internet usage.
Of the 431,118 consumer fraud complaints documented by the Consumer Sentinel program in 2005, 196,503 (46%) were associated with Internet usage. The prevalence of Internet usage continues to rise, with an estimated one billion people around the world classifying themselves as an “Internet user.” Because of its prevalence, the Internet can be used to perpetrate a variety of frauds on users.
Internet and Credit Cards
Credit card fraud is one of the most popular types of Internet usage fraud. E-commerce is a bustling industry generating billions of dollars in revenue each year. Although there are a variety of methods through which to pay for merchandise / services that are purchased online, credit cards remain the number one payment method.
Of the 196,503 Internet-related fraud complaints that were documented by the Consumer Sentinel program in 2005, 37% involved credit card fraud. It is important for consumers to recognize the difference between a secure and insecure web portal through which to use your credit card information; however, it should be noted that even the most secure portals are susceptible to some of the more sophisticated methods of credit card fraud.
Bank account debits and wire transfers are the second and third most common methods through which merchandise / services are purchased online. Similarly, bank account debit fraud and wire transfer fraud are the second and third most common sources of Internet-related fraud complaints.
Internet and Ticket Fraud
Auction portals like EBay are susceptible to a wide variety of fraudulent activities, one of which includes ticket fraud. Movie ticket fraud is a commonly used brand of ticket fraud because it attracts less attention than some of the larger events that generate significantly higher per-ticket prices.
Fake tickets are often fabricated and sold via scalpers for a wide-variety of events. The Internet provides a somewhat anonymous venue through which ticket frauds can be perpetrated on a much larger scale. Although many Internet auction portals remove themselves from the liability of such frauds, legal steps can nonetheless be taken if online auctioneers are viewed to be responsible for fostering a haven through which fraudulent activities are rife.
Internet and Bank Fraud
Online banking services have been getting increasingly popular throughout the United States. Studies estimate that more than 55 million Americans do their banking online, leaving themselves vulnerable to all sorts of Internet-related bank fraud. Online banking requires sensitive information such as social security numbers, account numbers, passwords, etc, to be stored online in order to access an account. This information can be accessed by third parties seeking to commit Internet bank fraud or identity theft.
Phishing is the act of tricking someone into giving you their confidential information under false pretense. Email phishing is a common practice by which bank fraud perpetrators retrieve important banking information. Phishing is also a common technique used in cases of identity theft.
Victims of Consumer Fraud – Restitution
Between January and December of 2005, the Consumer Sentinel program registered more than 685,000 consumer fraud and identity theft complaints that cost consumers an estimated $680 million. Consumer fraud victims reported an average monetary loss of $350 each during 2005.
If you or a loved one has been victimized by some form of consumer fraud, you might be eligible to receive compensation for your loss. It is incredibly difficult for a single victim of consumer fraud to voice their complaint; as such, personal injury law firms such as the law offices of Aylstock, Witkin, Kreis & Overholtz make it their business to assist the victims of consumer fraud so that their complaints can be heard. Contact our consumer fraud lawyers to get information about a consumer fraud victim’s right to compensation.