FTC: Identity theft is the plague of the country

FTC details top 10 consumer complaints; Fraud in general is a $1.6 billion loser

The Federal Trade Commission today issued its annual look at what consumers in the United States are complaining about the most.

And for the 14th consecutive year the winner, or loser really, for 2013 was identity theft, receiving over 290,000 or 14% of the agency’s 2 million overall complaints. Thirty percent of these incidents were tax- or wage-related, which continues to be the largest category within identity theft complaints, the FTC stated.

The identity theft totals were actually down from 2012 when the agency said it got 369,132 or 18%, of the complaints were related to identity theft. Of those, more than 43% related to tax- or wage-related fraud, the agency stated.

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Florida has the highest per capita rate of reported identity theft and fraud complaints, followed by Georgia and California for identity theft complaints, and Nevada and Georgia for fraud and other complaints, the FTC noted.

The IRS recently included identity theft as its No.1 scam in its annual Dirty Dozen tax scams for 2014.  In many cases, an identity thief uses a legitimate taxpayer’s identity to fraudulently file a tax return and claim a refund.  

The Top 10 complaints are:

  1. Identity Theft
  2. Debt Collection
  3. Banks and Lenders
  4. Imposter Scams
  5. Telephone and Mobile Services
  6. Prizes, Sweepstakes, and Lotteries
  7. Auto Related Complaints
  8. Shop-at-Home and Catalog Sales
  9. Television and Electronic Media
  10. Advance Payment for Credit Services

Over 1 million complaints were fraud-related costing consumers $1.6 billion in loses, the FTC stated. Forty-eight percent of all fraud-related complaints reported the method of initial contact. Of those complaints, 40% said the telephone, while another 33% said e-mail. Only 5% of those consumers reported mail as the initial point of contact.

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