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Identity Theft Tops FTC’s Consumer Complaint Categories Again in 2014

posted Feb 27, 2015, 10:23 AM by Resty Manapat

Identity theft topped the Federal Trade Commission’s national ranking of consumer complaints for the 15thconsecutive year, while the agency also recorded a large increase in the number of complaints about so-called “imposter” scams, according to the FTC’s 2014 Consumer Sentinel Network Data Book, which was released today.

Imposter scams – in which con artists impersonate government officials or others – moved into third place on the list of consumer complaints, entering the top three complaint categories for the first time. The increase in imposter scams was led by a sharp jump in complaints about IRS and other government imposter scams. Debt collection held steady as the second-most-reported complaint.

“While identity theft remains a huge issue, consumers should also keep a close eye out for imposter scams,” said Jessica Rich, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “Whether it’s pretending to be the IRS during tax season or making false promises of a lottery win, scammers are increasingly sophisticated in their efforts to deceive consumers, but the FTC will continue working to shut these scammers down.”

The Consumer Sentinel Network Data Book is produced annually using complaints received by the FTC’s Consumer Sentinel Network. That includes not only complaints made directly by consumers to the FTC, but also complaints received by state and federal law enforcement agencies, national consumer protection organizations and non-governmental organizations.

The report includes not only national data but also a state-by-state accounting of top complaint categories and a listing of the metropolitan areas that generated the most complaints. In 2014, 2,582,851 complaints were entered into the Consumer Sentinel Network. Florida was the top source of complaints per capita both for identity theft, and fraud and other complaints. For fraud and other complaints, Georgia and Nevada had the second and third highest per capita complaint rates, while Washington and Oregon were in the second and third position for identity theft complaints.

The complaint categories making up the top 10 are:

                                                                                              Number                      Percent

Identity Theft                                                                         332,646                       13 percent

Debt Collection                                                                       280,998                       11 percent

Imposter Scams                                                                       276,662                       11 percent

Telephone and Mobile Services                                                 171,809                       7 percent

Banks and Lenders                                                                   128,107                       5 percent

Prizes, Sweepstakes and Lotteries                                             103,579                       4 percent

Auto-Related Complaints                                                          88,334                         3 percent

Shop-At-Home and Catalog Sales                                               71,377                         3 percent

Television and Electronic Media                                                 48,640                         2 percent

Internet Services                                                                       46,039                         2 percent

The Consumer Sentinel Network’s secure online database is available to more than 2,000 civil and criminal law enforcement agencies across the country and abroad. Agencies use the data to research cases, identify victims and track possible targets. 


Source: Federal Trade Commission