Think you’re safe from online fraud? SC was hit hard in 2023. Here’s how folks were most scammed

South Carolina had the fourth largest increase in fraud losses across the U.S. in 2023, federal data shows.

LendingTree recently analyzed the latest data from the Federal Trade Commission to better understand fraud-related losses across the U.S. After examining which types of scams are responsible for the most money lost and where in the country Americans lose the most money to scams, LendingTree found that South Carolina hit hard by fraud last year. Here’s what the data shows about the state.

SC fraud in 2023

  • South Carolina saw a 34.4% increase in fraud losses from 2022 to 2023. In the first 9 months of 2022, residents lost $60 million to fraud — that jumped to $80.5 million in 2023.

  • South Carolina ranks 13th among states where residents lost the most money to scams. Residents lost $80.5 million to financial scams in the first nine months of 2023.

  • South Carolina residents filed 51,603 fraud reports or 1,003 reports per 100,000 residents. The average amount lost per fraud report was $1,561.

Types of fraud

According to the data, impostor scams were the most common across the U.S. in 2023, but they didn’t result in the biggest losses.

Overall, Americans lost $7 billion to fraud in 2023, $2 billion of which came from impostor scams. Such scams include business impostor scams, where fraudsters pretend to be trusted businesses that victims might already know. Other frauds include family and friend impostor, government impostor, tech support impostor and romantic impostors targeting lonely people.

Despite the prevalence of impostor scams, Americans lost more money — $3.2 billion — to investment-related scams.

“That’s likely because investors are willing to put up larger sums of money for the opportunity to earn even more of it — though those ambitions never came to fruition for these unlucky victims,” LendingTree states.

How victims are most targeted

Email-based scams were the most common ways people were targeted in 2023, the data shows. There were 266,919 reported email scams between January and September.

However, though they were the fifth most reported method, social media scams led to the largest losses in 2023 — $1 billion in total. Social media has seen a 463.3% surge in reported fraud cases from 2019 to 2022. Over the same period, the amount of money lost from social media fraud jumped by 90.8%.

Scams based on text messages or apps also increased considerably over the last four years (141.2% and 164.2% respectively), along with their related losses (up 79.7% for text and 77.5% for websites and apps).

How to protect yourself from fraud

  • Here are tips to protect yourself from fraud, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

  • Do not share passwords for accounts, credit cards or your social security number

  • Never pay up front for a prize — it’s a scam if you’re told you must pay fees or taxes to get a prize

  • After hearing a sales pitch, take time to compare prices — ask for information in writing and be sure to read it

  • Ask yourself why someone is trying so hard to give you a great deal. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is

  • Be wary of deals that are only “good today” and pressure you to act quickly — walk away from deals that won’t give you time to read a contract or consult an attorney before signing