When browsing the internet, you'll inevitably encounter no shortage of ads, services, and websites that want your money. Unfortunately, some want your money for insidious purposes. A new study from the website QRFY took a look at some of the most popular scams that are plaguing Iowans.

In 2023, Iowans lost a jaw-dropping $42 million to scammers on the internet. QRFY analyzed data from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), and found that Iowa was the 40th most defrauded state in the US based on money lost relative to the state's population.

Photo Credit: Artur, Digital Team
Photo Credit: Artur, Digital Team

The final number was $42,571,728 lost across 12,999 reports to the FTC. That equates to $1.3 million lost per 100,000 residents. That's a confounding figure.

So, what are some of the most common scams Iowans fell victim to in 2023? The top three all kind of go hand-in-hand.

The Top Three Scams Affecting Iowans:

Imposter scams were found to be the most common affecting Iowans. Imposter scams are when someone tricks you into sending them money while claiming to be someone they are not. QRFY reveals that this type of scam can be carried out across multiple platforms: phone, via email, or text. Often times, it's a cybercriminal posing as someone with authority, such as your bank or the IRS, claiming you owe money. Never send money to someone you don't know whose identity you cannot easily verify. This scam reportedly accounted for 19% of scams in the state of Iowa.


Photo Credit: Artur, Getty Images
Photo Credit: Artur, Getty Images

In a three-way-tie for first, identity theft followed imposter scams as the most common type of fraud in Iowa. Identity theft is when someone steals your personal or financial information. It's scary and extremely common, unfortunately. So, how do you avoid it? QRFY says to look out for bills for items you didn't purchase, or information on your credit report that you don't recognize.

It should go without saying, but don't share your Social Security number, bank account number, or any other personal financial information via text/email.

Photo Credits: Stuart Miles, ThinkStock (SCAM keys); grinvalds, Digital Team (Scammer); ronstik, Digital Team (Scam caller); Artur, Digital Team (Scam alert)
Photo Credits: Stuart Miles, ThinkStock (SCAM keys); grinvalds, Digital Team (Scammer); ronstik, Digital Team (Scam caller); Artur, Digital Team (Scam alert)

Finally, online shopping and negative review scams came in as the third most common scam plaguing Iowans. Consumers are often lured into these by a fake ad placed on social media:

The consumer is often lured in with a fake ad placed on social media, and then they place an order which they never receive. Other online ads may appear from well-recognized brands but are scams instead. Remember, if a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is. Review fraud can include merchants posting fake positive reviews, suppressing honest negative reviews, and even paying for positive reviews, which deceive buyers looking for real feedback on products or services they spend their money on. - per QRFY

Auto-Related Scams are Also Ones to Watch:

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3% of Iowans fell for auto-related scams in 2023. Fraudsters typically use deceptive advertisements for cars sold at shockingly low prices. They sometimes even steal photos of vehicles from legitimate websites. They also tend to use false addresses and provide other misleading info in an effort to seem legitimate. And then, of course, we have the notorious car warranty/insurance scams that have become a meme in themselves.

The Top 10 Most Common Scams in Iowa:

RankCategory of fraudNumber of reports in 2023Percentage of all reports
1.Imposter Scams4,60219%
2.Identity Theft4,46819%
3.Online Shopping and Negative Reviews2,1809%
4.Credit Bureaus, Information Furnishers and Report Users1,4496%
5.Banks and Lenders1,2125%
6.Prizes, Sweepstakes and Lotteries1,0114%
7.Auto Related7683%
8.Debt Collection6613%
9.Internet Services6393%
10.Health Care6203%

View the full results of this study on QRFY's website.

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