Last week, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) released a statistical survey of fraud in the United States during 2011. The study estimated that 25.6 million adults, or approximately 10.8 percent of the adult population, fell victim to fraud during that period. The survey is important to legitimate marketers, as it highlights advertising channels and product categories that are most likely to receive heightened scrutiny from federal and state regulators.

The FTC fingered the Internet as the place consumers were most likely to encounter fraud. The study included email, social media, auction sites, and online classified ads in the “Internet” category. Print advertising was the second-most-frequent source of fraudulent advertising, followed by TV and radio. As far as point-of-sale, most consumers bought fraudulent items via the Internet; telephone purchases ranked second in the survey.

Regarding types of fraudulent products, weight-loss products ranked first in the survey, affecting almost one-fifth of the estimated victims. Prize promotions ranked second, affecting almost 10 percent of the estimated victims. Unauthorized billings for membership clubs, work-at-home, and business opportunities also made the FTC’s top-10 list.

Click here to read the FTC’s press release and access a copy of the Commission’s staff report.