Identity theft tops consumer complaints

The FTC (Federal Trade Commission) reported for the 11th straight year that identity theft was the leading complaint filed at the agency by consumers; about 250,000 complaints in 2010.

  • Government documents/benefits fraud (19%) was the most common form of reported identity theft, followed by credit card fraud (15%), phone or utilities fraud (14%), and employment fraud (11%). Other significant categories of identity theft reported by victims were bank fraud (10%) and loan fraud (4%).
  • Government documents/benefits fraud increased 4 percentage points since calendar year 2008; identity theft-related credit card fraud, on the other hand, declined 5 percentage points since calendar year 2008.
  • Forty-two percent of identity theft complainants reported whether they contacted law enforcement. Of those victims, 72% notified a police department. Sixty-two percent indicated a report was taken.
  • Florida is the state with the highest per capita rate of reported identity theft complaints, followed by Arizona and California.  
  • And the highest percentage of thefts occurred among folks age 20-29

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It’s unclear how many of the ID theft complaints are related to Internet activity. “Most people don’t know how their identity was stolen,” said FTC spokeswoman Claudia Bourne Farrell. “If you lose your wallet on Monday and Tuesday someone starts using your cards, you have a pretty good educated guess. Otherwise you don’t. And how would you know if someone stole your identity on the Internet?”

As I read through the stats it seems like the moral of the story is if you’re young and live in a warm state chances are you’re a good target for ID theft. I wonder if there is a correlation with spring break?