For the 12th year in a row, identity theft topped the list of consumer complaints released by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) for 2011. Of more than 1.8 million complaints filed in 2011, 279,156 – or 15 percent – were identity theft complaints, and nearly 25 percent of those identity theft complaints were related tax- or wage-related fraud. For more information about the FTC’s Top Complaint Categories for 2011, visit: http://www.ftc.gov/opa/2012/02/2011complaints.shtm.
The FTC – the government agency working for consumers to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices – enters complaints into the Consumer Sentinel Network (CSN), a secure online database of millions of consumer complaints available to more than 2,000 civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the United States and abroad. In addition to storing complaints received by the FTC, the CSN also includes complaints filed with federal, state, and non-governmental organizations.
The CSN report breaks out complaint data on a state-by-state basis and also contains data about the 50 metropolitan areas reporting the highest per capita incidence of fraud and other complaints. In addition, the 50 metropolitan areas reporting the highest incidence of identity theft are noted. According to the FTC, the top ten complaint categories for 2011 were:
- Identity Theft: 279,156 Complaints (15 percent)
- Debt Collection: 180,928 Complaints (10 percent)
- Prizes, Sweepstakes, and Lotteries: 100,208 Complaints (6 percent)
- Shop-at-Home and Catalog Sales: 98,306 Complaints (5 percent)
- Banks and Lenders: 89,341 Complaints (5 percent)
- Internet Services: 81,805 Complaints (5 percent)
- Auto Related: 77,435 Complaints (4 percent)
- Imposter Scams: 73,281 Complaints (4 percent)
- Telephone and Mobile Services: 70,024 Complaints (4 percent)
- Advance-Fee Loans and Credit Protection/Repair: 47,414 Complaints (3 percent)
Begun in 1997 to collect fraud and identity theft complaints, the CSN now has more than 7 million complaints, including those about credit reports, debt collection, mortgages, and lending, among other subjects. Between January and December 2011, the CSN received more than 1.8 million consumer complaints, which the FTC has sorted into 30 complaint categories. For more information about the Consumer Sentinel Network, visit http://www.FTC.gov/sentinel.
As reported earlier on the ESR News blog, fueled in part by the rise in the use of smart phones and social media by consumers, identity theft incidents in the United States rose by 13 percent in 2011 to affect nearly 12 million Americans, according to the ‘2012 Identity Fraud Report: Social Media and Mobile Forming the New Fraud Frontier’ survey released by Javelin Strategy & Research. To download the identity theft survey from Javelin, visit https://www.javelinstrategy.com/brochure/239.
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