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Posted at 11:28 AM ET, 03/ 8/2011

FTC: Identity theft, Internet auctions, services among top 10 complaints

By Cecilia Kang

The Federal Trade Commission said Tuesday that the top complaint it received from consumers last year was over identity theft. Also high on the list were complaints about Internet and telecommunications services and Internet auctions.

In its annual report on consumer complaints, the protection agency said identity theft was the number one consumer gripe for the 11th year in a row. Of a total 1.3 million complaints received last year, 19 percent were related to identity theft.

Here are the top 10 complaints:

1. Identity theft, 250,854 complaints

2. Debt collection, 144,159 complaints

3. Internet services, 65,565 complaints

4. Prizes, sweepstakes and lotteries, 64,085 complaints

5. Shop-at-home and catalog Sales, 60,205 complaints

6. Imposter scams, 60,158 complaints

7. Internet auctions, 56,107 complaints

8. Foreign money/counterfeit check scams, 43,866

9. Telephone and mobile services, 37,388 complaints

10. Credit cards, 33,258 complaints

By Cecilia Kang  | March 8, 2011; 11:28 AM ET
Categories:  Consumers, FTC, Mobile, credit cards, internet  
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The 2010 Consumer Sentinel Network Data Book outlines 250,854 reports of identity theft with the most common type of identity theft, tax- or wage-related fraud, accounting for 15.5 percent of those complaints (up from 12.7 percent in 2009). The Sentinel report chronicles a total of 1.3 million complaints made by consumers in 2010, and for the 11th straight year, identity theft led all categories, at 19 percent.

There are indications from the report that low-hanging fruit—easy crimes like Dumpster-diving—may be waning as banks impose tighter account security and more people check their accounts online. The trend is toward more sophisticated kinds of fraud such as tax and employment documents.

The fact that government documents/benefits fraud (19%) was the most common form of reported identity theft shows how much it costs the American tax payer. The detailed breakdown indicates clearly that tax/wage related identity fraud was on the increase from 2008 (12.3%) to 2010 (15.5%). This combined with a 0.5% increase in benefits fraud during the same period shows that the IRS and programs like Medicare could still benefit from more active fraud and identity theft investigation and victim assistance.

There are a few dashes of good news in the report: Among them, victims are calling in the cavalry more often. In 2008, only 36 percent of victims notified police; the following year, the figure jumped to 73 percent, and in 2010 it held steady at 72 percent. This reflects greater awareness of the right things to do and being more aggressive in addressing identity theft.

Adam Levin
Chairman and Co-Founder
Identity Theft 911 &

Posted by: idt911 | March 9, 2011 1:15 PM | Report abuse

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