Did You Fall For One Of The Top Scams Of 2016?


by Barbara Nevins Taylor

Good news on the scam front, sort of.  Reports of identity theft dropped slightly in 2016, according to the Federal Trade Commission‘s (FTC) annual roundup. Debt collection and imposter scams that use the telephone to invade your life like, “I’m calling from the IRS and I’m going to arrest you if you don’t pay immediately,” topped the list of ripoffs. 

Grandparent Scam

These imposters scams also include “The Grandparent Scam,” where someone calls and tells you that your grandchild needs money immediately. They direct you to go out and get a pre-paid card and send them money, or wire transfer money that you will never see again 

Computer Tech Scam

In another variation, a scammer calls and poses as a computer technician and scares you about some fake problem. They ask you to give them access to your computer so they can fix things, then they install malware or make changes that allow them to steal personal and financial information.

Sometimes these tech scammers ask for credit card information to bill your phony services, or they ask you to visit websites that ask for your credit card number and other personal information.


The FTC’S Acting Director of Consumer Protection, Thomas Pahl, says, “Our latest data shows that imposter scams are a growing and serious problem.”

58 percent of those who reported losing money in one of these scams say they sent money through a wire transfer.  77 percent say the scammer made the first contact through a telephone call to their home.  We also know now that scammers target mobile phones, too. So that’s something else to worry about.

The FTC urges everyone to view skeptically any caller who asks for money via wire transfer. The government will never ask you to send money that way and it is illegal for telemarketers to ask for a wire transfer. 

The agency based the Top 10 List on more than 3.1 million consumer complaints. The most complaints came from Florida, Georgia and Michigan.

Top 2016 Scams 

Debt Collection

Imposter Scams

Identity Theft

Telephone and Mobile Services 

Banks and Lenders

Prizes, Sweepstakes and Lotteries

Shop-At-Home and Catalog Sales

Auto Related Complaints

Credit Bureaus

Television and Electronic Media

Listen to an IRS call

If one of these scammers contacts you, report it to the Federal Trade Commission, FTC.gov/complaint.

Published by

Barbara Nevins Taylor

As the winner of 22 Emmy Awards and a slew of journalism honors and awards, I created ConsumerMojo.com to give you the straight story about complicated stuff. Tell us what you want to know and we'll get you the answers.