IDENTITY THEFT

Problem

The Federal Trade Commission has released the list of top consumer complaints received by the agency. The list showed that for the 11th year in a row, identity theft was the number one consumer complaint category. Of 1,339,265 complaints received in 2010, 250,854 – or 19 percent – were related to identity theft. Debt collection complaints were in second place, with 144,159 complaints.

The 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.

For the first time, “imposter scams” – where imposters posed as friends, family, respected companies or government agencies to get consumers to send them money – made the top 10. The FTC also has issued a new consumer alert, “Spotting an Imposter”, to help consumers avoid imposter scams.

The top consumer complaints were:
Rank Category Complaints Percentage
1 Identity Theft 250,854 19%
2 Debt Collection 144,159 11%
3 Internet Services 65,565 5%
4 Prizes, Sweepstakes and Lotteries 64,085 5%
5 Shop-at-Home and Catalog Sales 60,205 4%
6 Imposter Scams 60,158 4%
7 Internet Auctions 56,107 4%
8 Foreign Money/Counterfeit Check Scams 43,866 3%
9 Telephone and Mobile Services 37,388 3%
10 Credit Cards 33,258 2%