Written By ESR News Blog Editor Thomas Ahearn
Debt collection, identity theft, and imposter scams were the most common categories of consumer complaints received by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in 2015, according to the FTC’s Consumer Sentinel Network Data Book for January – December 2015 (PDF).
Debt collection complaints rose to the top spot among complaint categories due in large part to a data contributor collecting complaints via a mobile app. Identity theft complaints were second, increasing more than 47 percent from 2014 with a massive jump in tax identity theft complaints.
“We recognize that identity theft and unlawful debt collection practices continue to cause significant harm to many consumers,” Jessica Rich, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, stated in an FTC press release about the agency’s annual data book.
The Consumer Sentinel Network data book is produced using complaints received by the FTC, state and federal law enforcement agencies, national consumer protection organizations, and non-governmental organizations. The FTC’s top ten consumer complaint categories were:
- Debt Collection – 897,655 complaints (29 percent)
- Identity Theft – 490,220 complaints (16 percent)
- Imposter Scams – 353,770 complaints (11 percent)
- Telephone and Mobile Services – 275,754 complaints (9 percent)
- Prizes, Sweepstakes and Lotteries – 140,136 complaints (5 percent)
- Banks and Lenders – 131,875 complaints (4 percent)
- Shop-At-Home and Catalog Sales – 96,363 complaints (3 percent)
- Auto-Related Complaints – 93,917 complaints (3 percent)
- Television and Electronic Media – 47,728 complaints (2 percent)
- Credit Bureaus, Information Furnishers and Report Users – 43,939 complaints (1 percent)
In 2015, the FTC used enforcement against companies violating laws protecting consumers from illegal debt collection. In January 2016, the FTC announced the new IdentityTheft.gov website to allow consumers the ability to create a personalized identity theft recovery plan.
“Steps like the recent upgrade to IdentityTheft.gov and our leadership of a nationwide initiative to combat unlawful debt collection practices are critical to our ongoing work to protect consumers from these harms,” said FTC Director of Bureau of Consumer Protection Rich.
In 2015, the FTC Consumer Sentinel Network collected 3,083,379 consumer complaints. Florida, Georgia and Michigan were the top three states for fraud and other complaints, while Missouri, Connecticut and Florida were the top three states for identity theft complaints.
The FTC Consumer Sentinel Network online database is available to more than 2,000 civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad. The FTC data book is available at https://www.ftc.gov/reports/consumer-sentinel-network-data-book-january-december-2015.
More ESR News Blogs about the FTC
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