HONOLULU (KHON2) – According to new data from the Federal Trade Commission, Hawaii consumers lost over $15 million collectively to scams in 2020. The FTC says, on average Hawaii residents lost about $370.

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“You really have to put your guard up, because these scams will increase,” said Roseann Freitas, the Hawaii Marketplace Manager of the Better Business Bureau. “We know that and anybody who has any sort of connection to the internet is a target.”

The FTC received a total of 10,000 reports from Hawaii residents last year, with the top category being identity theft.

“Many people had their identity stolen and somebody filed an unemployment claim on them. So that was number one, that’s not a surprise after COVID-19. I expect people are going to have to really keep their guard up as we move forward, because things have changed, and they’re going to continue to try to steal those identities,” Freitas said.

Other top categories include imposter, online shopping, and sweepstakes and lottery scams.

“They may get an email or a telephone call telling them that they’ve won this tremendous prize of thousands of dollars and in order to redeem the prize, they have to pay the attorney’s fees or they have to pay the taxes,” said Stephen Levins, the Director of the Office of Consumer Protection. “It’s not just sending a check or a credit card, but they want you to wire the money.”

The Better Business Bureau says, always use credit cards for online purchases, never wire money and don’t click on any unsolicited messages.

Consumers can report scams to the Office of Consumer Protection by calling their hotline at 587-4272 or click here.