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FTC Releases Top 30 Consumer Complaints of the Year; ID Fraud Is No. 1

(ABC) — Identity theft, led by a sharp rise in reports of tax return refund hijacking, topped the Federal Trade Commission’s list of complaints received last year.

The FTC received over two million complaints last year, and 18 percent were related to identity theft–that’s up 3 percentage points from the prior year. Of those 369,132 ID theft complaints, more than 43 percent were tax- or wage-related fraud.

Over one million complaints were fraud-related with total losses of over $1.4 billion, the FTC said. The average amount lost by consumers who complained to the FTC was $2,350.

Government documents/benefits fraud (46 percent) was the most common form of reported identity theft.

The second most reported form of identity theft was credit card fraud (13 percent) followed by phone or utilities fraud (10 percent), and bank fraud (6 percent).

Complaints about government documents/benefits fraud increased 27 percentage points since 2010. The FTC said tax or wage-related fraud accounted for the growth in this area, with 43.4 percent of identity theft victims reporting this problem in 2012

Reports of tax refund identity theft skyrocketed, according to the Government Accountability Office.

The Internal Revenue Service identified 641,690 incidents of identity theft involving tax fraud in 2012 as of Sept. 30. That is a nearly three-fold increase from the 232,142 incidents reported in 2011.

The FTC’s full report describing the type of complaints received and categorized by metropolitan areas show Florida is the state with the highest per capita rate of reported fraud and other types of complaints, followed by Georgia and Maryland. Florida also had the highest per capita rate of reported identity theft complaints, followed by Georgia and California.

Here are the top 30 complaints the FTC received in 2012:

18 percent
1. Identity theft
369,132 complaints

10 percent
2. Debt collection
199,721 complaints

6 percent
3. Banks and Lenders
132,340 complaints

6 percent
4. Shop-at-Home and Catalog Sales
115,184 complaints

5 percent
5. Prizes, Sweepstakes and Lotteries
98,479 complaints

4 percent
6. Impostor Scams
82,896 complaints

4 percent
7. Internet Services
81,438 complaints

4 percent
8. Auto-Related Complaints
78,062 complaints

4 percent
9. Telephone and Mobile Services
76,783 complaints

3 percent
10. Credit Cards
51,550 complaints

2 percent
11. Foreign Money Offers and Counterfeit Check Scams
46,112 complaints

2 percent
12. Advance Payments for Credit Services
42,974 complaints

2 percent
13. Television and Electronic Media
41,664 complaints

2 percent
14. Health Care
35,703 complaints

2 percent
15. Mortgage Foreclosure Relief and Debt Management
33,791 complaints

2 percent
16. Business and Job Opportunities
32,496 complaints

1 percent
17. Travel, Vacations and Timeshare Plans
30,324 complaints

1 percent
18. Internet Auction
29,553 complaints

1 percent
19. Credit Bureaus, Information Furnishers and Report Users
29,268 complaints

1 percent
20. Office Supplies and Services
24,210 complaints

1 percent
21. Magazines and Books
18,906 complaints

1 percent
22. Home Repair, Improvement and Products
13,432 complaints

1 percent
23. Computer Equipment and Software
13,386 complaints

<1 percent
24. Grants
10,257 complaints

<1 percent
25. Real Estate
8,468 complaints

<1 percent
26. Investment Related Complaints
7,117 complaints

<1 percent
27. Education
3,613 complaints

<1 percent
28. Charitable Solicitations
3,599 complaints

<1 percent
29. Clothing, Textiles and Jewelry
2,468 complaints

<1 percent
30. Buyers’ Clubs
2,125 complaints


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