Identity theft morphs, but maintains lead as FTC's top consumer complaint

For the ninth year in a row identity theft - particularly in Arizona and California -- was the number one consumer complaint filed with the Federal Trade Commission in 2008.  Of 1,223,370 complaints received in 2008, 313,982 - or 26%- were related to identity theft.

The FTC ‘s list in the  "Consumer Sentinel Network (CSN) Data Book for January-December 2008," states that credit card fraud was the most common form of reported identity theft at 20%, followed by government documents/benefits fraud at 15%, employment fraud at 15%, phone or utilities fraud at 13%, bank fraud at 11 %and loan fraud at 4%. The CSN received over 1.2 million complaints during calendar year 2008.

With regards to identity theft, the report found that credit card fraud (20%) was the most common form followed by government documents/benefits fraud (15%), employment fraud (15%), and phone or utilities fraud (13%). Other significant categories of identity theft reported by victims were bank fraud (11%) and loan fraud (4%).

Government documents/benefits fraud is now the second most common reported type of identity theft after credit card fraud. Fraudulent tax return-related identity theft, a subtype of government documents/benefits fraud, has increased nearly six percentage points since calendar year 2006. And electronic fund transfer-related identity theft continues to be the most frequently reported type of identity theft bank fraud during calendar year 2008, despite declining since calendar year 2006.

The top 20 complaint categories were:

1 Identity Theft               

2 Third Party and Creditor Debt Collection

3 Shop-at-Home and Catalog Sales

4 Internet Services

5 Foreign Money Offers and Counterfeit Check Scams

6 Credit Bureaus, Information Furnishers and Report Users

7 Prizes, Sweepstakes and Lotteries

8 Television and Electronic Media

9 Banks and Lenders

10 Telecom Equipment and Mobile Services

11 Computer Equipment and Software

12 Business Opportunities, Employment Agencies and Work-at-Home

13 Internet Auction

14 Advance-Fee Loans and Credit Protection//Repair

15 Health Care

16 Auto Related Complaints

17 Travel, Vacations and Timeshare Plans

18 Credit Cards 13,196 1

19 Magazines and Buyers Clubs

20 Telephone Services

The report also found that Arizona, California,  Florida, Texas, Nevada, New York, Georgia, Illinois ,  New Mexico and Colorado were the top 10 worst states for identity theft.

Colorado in fact lead the nation in fraud and other complaints followed by Maryland, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, Alaska, Virginia, Arizona, Florida, New Hampshire and Delaware.

The 10 largest metropolitan areas with the most complaints were:

1 Napa, CA

2 Greeley, CO

3 Albany-Lebanon, OR

4 Dunn, NC

5 Punta Gorda, FL

6 Roseburg, OR

7 Madera, CA

8 Prescott, AZ

9 Yuba City, CA

10 Gettysburg, PA

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