New data released by the Federal Trade Commission shows that West Virginia residents filed 11,251 complaints with the FTC last year.

The most common category of complaints received from West Virginia consumers was imposter scams, followed by prizes, sweepstakes and lotteries, identity theft, telephone and mobile services and online shopping and negative reviews, the data showed.

Consumers in West Virginia reported losing $6,553,831 to scams and fraud. However, the data also shows that consumers across West Virginia received $574,720 in refund checks from the FTC in 2019.

In addition to refunds, the newly released data also shows reports from around the country about consumer protection issues are a key resource for FTC investigations that stop illegal activities and, when possible, provide refunds to consumers.

The most common type of fraud reported to the FTC in 2019 nationwide was imposter scams; government imposter scams, in particular, were the most frequently reported, and up more than 50% since 2018.

Of all reports received, the top categories were identity theft, imposter scams, telephone and mobile services, online shopping and credit bureaus, the data showed.

The FTC’s Consumer Sentinel Network is a database that receives reports directly from consumers, as well as from federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies and a number of private partners.

The network received 3.2 million reports in 2019, including nearly 1.7 million fraud reports as well as identity theft and other reports.

Consumers reported losing more than $1.9 billion to fraud in 2019, with nearly $667 million lost to imposter scams alone.

The report indicated that scammers target consumers using every possible method of communication with phone calls were the most common.

However, a small percentage of consumers who reported they encountered a fraud over the phone said they actually lost money. When they did, the median individual loss was more than $1,000.

The FTC uses the reports it receives through the Sentinel network as the starting point for most of its law enforcement investigations and the agency also shares these reports with more than 2,500 law enforcement users around the country.

While the FTC does not respond to individual complaints, Sentinel reports are a vital part of the agency’s law enforcement mission, the report stated.

You can learn more about consumer topics and file a consumer complaint online or by calling 1-877-FTC-HELP (382-4357).

Follow reporter Fred Pace at Facebook.com/FredPaceHD and via Twitter

@FredPaceHD.

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