ID Theft Consumer Complaints to FTC Declining

Posted by fgilbert on February 28th, 2012

The Federal Trade Commission annual report on complaints filed by consumers, released on February 28, 2012, provides a list of the top consumer complaints received by the agency in 2011. For the 12th year in a row, identity theft complaints topped the list.

Of more than 1.8 million complaints filed in 2011, 279,156 or 15 percent, were identity theft complaints. In the past three years, the number of identity theft complaints has significantly declined: from 20% in 2009 to 15% in 2011.

The report also indicates that the number of complaints for credit card fraud has declined by 3 percentage points since 2009, from 17 percent in 2009 to 14 percent in 2011. It is clear that, despite their shortcomings, the security breach disclosure laws have contributed to raising companies and consumers’ awareness, and to identifying security incidents faster and more easily. As a result, credit card companies have been in a better position to promptly block stolen cards or credit card numbers.

On the other hand, the number of identity theft complaints related to tax- or wage-related fraud has doubled since 2009, jumping from 12.7% percent to 24.1 percent in 2011. This area clearly needs more attention. Proper measures need to be identified to reduce this type of fraud.

Complaints Number Percent
Identify Theft 279,156 15 percent
Debt Collection 180,928 10 percent
Prizes, Sweepstakes, and Lotteries 100,208 6 percent
Shop-at-Home and Catalog Sales 98,306 5 percent
Banks and Lenders 89,341 5 percent
Internet Services 81,805 5 percent
Auto Related Complaints 77,435 4 percent
Imposter Scams 73,281 4 percent
Telephone and Mobile Services 70,024 4 percent
Advance-Fee Loans and Credit Protection/Repair 47,414 3 percent

The 103 page Report breaks out complaint data on a state-by-state basis and contains data about the 50 metropolitan areas reporting the highest per capita incidence of fraud and other complaints. Florida, Georgia, and California have received the highest number of identity theft complaints (computed per capita), while Maine, and North & South Dakota received the smallest number of identity theft complaints.

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