If you were the victim of an online scam in 2020, you were not alone, especially if you live in Pennsylvania.

Out of the record $4.2 billion stolen from Americans through online scams in 2020 based on the Internet Crime Complaint Center, people from the commonwealth lost $108,506,204, the eighth most in the country. That is over half of the $7.6 billion that was been stolen between 2017 and 2019.

A poll of 772 by SocialCatfish.com pinned down some findings to inform the public of what to watch for. Here were some of their findings:

  • People 20 years old or younger had the fastest growing rate of victims
  • The top five apps where people surveyed were scammed were 1) Facebook, 2) Google Hangouts, 3) Instagram, 4) WhatsApp and 5) Plenty of Fish
  • 73 percent of the 722 victims are too ashamed to file an official report of the scam
  • A major impediment to stopping online scams are law enforcement jurisdictions, as many scammers originate from outside the United States
  • Spoofing is a new and highly effective scam, where scammers make their phone number appear to belong to your bank, credit card company or other “legitimate” company you do business with. Using this technique, scammers stole over $216 million in 2020 compared to $0 in 2017.

SocialCatfish.com listed 10 ways to avoid getting scammed.

  • Do not send money over the Internet to someone you have never met in person
  • Do not give out your personal information to someone online
  • Stay informed with various resources, such as the State of Internet Scams 2021 Scam Guide
  • Do not trust someone is who they say they are without at least meeting them in person or video chatting first
  • A huge red flag is if they have a job overseas since they usually use this as an excuse to not see you or video chat with you
  • If a random person contacting you on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter, it usually means that a scammer is on the other side
  • Have a password manager to create many passwords for your accounts to prevent scammers from easily guessing your passwords
  • Use AI technology to find scam emails before they can fool you into thinking they are real
  • Search your email to make sure your information hasn’t been compromised by a data breach
  • If you have been a victim of identity theft, please report your case to IdentityTheft.gov for further assistance in recovering your identity
  • If you have been victimized, report any scam immediately to the FTC, IC3, and FBI.

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