FTC: Identity thefts down, but fraud complaints up

FTC report finds Florida and Nevada lead in identity theft and fraud categories

Identity theft continues to lead the Federal Trade Commission's yearly look at consumer gripes but reports of the crime actually dropped  5% from 2008. 

Credit card fraud, however,  continues to increase.  According to the FTC, a total of 721,418 fraud complaints were filed in 2009 with a resulting in a loss of $1.7 billion.  Of that, 40% of consumers reported credit card as the payment method, an increase of 7% over 2008.  Another 48% said email was involved. 

In total, the FTC received over 1.3 million complaints during calendar year 2009: 54% fraud complaints; 21% identity theft complaints; and 25% other types of complaints. 

The top complaints were:

Rank Category                                  No. of Complaints                     Percentages

1 Identity Theft                                        278,078                         21%

2 Third Party and Creditor Debt Collection     119,549                         9%

3 Internet Services                                   83,067                           6%

4 Shop-at-Home and Catalog Sales              74,581                            6%

5 Foreign Money/Counterfeit Check Scams    61,736                           5%

6 Internet Auction                                    57,821                           4%

7 Credit Cards                                          45,203                           3%

8 Prizes, Sweepstakes and Lotteries             41,763                           3%

9 Advance-Fee Loan/Credit Protection/Repair  41,448                         3%

10 Banks and Lenders                                 32,443                           2%

11 Credit Bureaus,                                     31,629                           2%

12 Television and Electronic Media                26,568                           2%

13 Health Care                                          25,414                           2%

14 Employment Agencies and Work-at-Home   22,896                           2%

15 Computer Equipment and Software            22,621                           2%

Some other interesting facts from the report included: 

  • Florida is the state with the highest per capita rate of reported identity theft complaints, followed by Arizona and Texas. 
  • Nevada has the highest per capita rate of reported fraud and other types of complaints, followed by Colorado and New Hampshire. 
  • Credit card fraud (17%) was the most common form of reported identity theft, followed by government documents/benefits fraud (16%), phone or utilities fraud (15%), and employment fraud (13%). Other significant categories of identity theft reported by victims were bank fraud (10%) and loan fraud (4%).

The report comes in the same week the FTC said it sent letters to almost 100 organizations that personal information, including sensitive data about customers and employees, has been shared from their computer networks and is available on peer-to-peer (P2P) file-sharing networks to any users of those networks, who could use it to commit identity theft or fraud. 

The FTC said companies and institutions of all sizes are vulnerable to serious P2P-related breaches, placing consumers' sensitive information such as  health-related information, financial records, and drivers' license and social security numbers at risk for identity theft.  In the notification letters, the FTC urged the entities to review their security practices and, if appropriate, the practices of contractors and vendors, to ensure that they are reasonable, appropriate, and in compliance with the law. 

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