FTC Announces Top National Consumer Complaints for 2013

As posted on February 27, 2014 on www.ftc.gov

Identity theft continues to top the Federal Trade Commission’s national ranking of consumer complaints, and American consumers reported losing over $1.6 billion to fraud overall in 2013, according to the FTC’s annual report on consumer complaints released today.

“Americans of all ages are vulnerable to identity theft, and it remains the most common consumer complaint to the Commission,” said Jessica Rich, director, Bureau of Consumer Protection. “We urge consumers to visit FTC.gov/idtheft for tips to prevent and mitigate the damage from identity theft.”

The Commission received more than two million complaints overall, as reported in the agency’s Consumer Sentinel Network Data Book 2013, of which 290,056, or 14 percent, were identity theft related. Thirty percent of these incidents were tax- or wage-related, which continues to be the largest category within identity theft complaints.

The highest reported age group for identity theft is 20-29, with 20 percent of complaints. Rich says that educating consumers on this topic is a top priority for the agency. Some of the FTC resources include Signs of Identity Theft, Immediate Steps to Repair Identity Theft, and How to Keep Your Personal Information Secure.

Of the more than 1.1 million fraud complaints (classified separately from identity theft) the Commission received, 61 percent of consumers reported an amount of money they had paid, which collectively added up to more than $1.6 billion.

The top 10 complaint categories include:

Category

Number of Complaints

Percentages

Identity Theft

290,056

14%

Debt Collection

204,644

10%

Banks and Lenders

152,707

7%

Imposter Scams

121,720

6%

Telephone and Mobile Services

116,261

6%

Prizes, Sweepstakes, and Lotteries

89,944

4%

Auto Related Complaints

82,701

4%

Shop-at-Home and Catalog Sales

66,024

3%

Television and Electronic Media

53,087

3%

Advance Payment for Credit Services

50,422

2%

The report details national data, as well as a state-by-state accounting of top complaint categories and a listing of the metropolitan areas that generated the most complaints. This includes the top 50 metropolitan areas for both fraud complaints and identity theft complaints. Florida is the state with the highest per capita rate of reported identity theft and fraud complaints, followed by Georgia and California for identity theft complaints, and Nevada and Georgia for fraud and other complaints.

The FTC enters complaints into the Consumer Sentinel Network, a secure online database that is available to more than 2,000 civil and criminal law enforcement agencies across the country. Agencies use the data to research cases, identify victims and track possible targets.

The Federal Trade Commission advises anyone who spots a scam, is the victim of identity theft or other fraud-related issues to file a complaint online with the agency’s Complaint Assistant or call 1-877-FTC-HELP (877-382-4357).

Other federal and state law enforcement agencies and organizations contribute consumer complaints to the Consumer Sentinel Network. The FTC provides information to entities interested in becoming a member to have access to data.