Identity Theft Tops Consumer Complain List

The Federal Trade Commission yesterday released its annual reportĀ on top consumer complaints for 2006. The report found that for the seventh year in a row, “identity theft tops the list, accounting for 36 percent of the 674,354 complaints received between January 1 and December 31, 2006.” And consumers paid heavy price for fraud related losses. According to FTC data, consumers reported fraud losses of more than $1.1 billion in 2006, with a median loss of $500. The breakdown of 2006 complaints into 16 categories looks like this:

Rank Top Categories Complaints %
1 Identity Theft 246,035 36%
2 Shop-at-Home/Catalog Sales 46,995 7%
3 Prizes/Sweepstakes and Lotteries 45,587 7%
4 Internet Services and Computer Complaints 41,243 6%
5 Internet Auctions 2,832 5%
6 Foreign Money Offers 20,411 3%
7 Advance-Fee Loans and Credit Protection/Repair 10,857 2%
8 Magazines and Buyers Clubs 8,924 1%
9 Telephone Services 8,165 1%
10 Health Care 7,467 1%
11 Business Opportunities and Work-at-Home Plans 7,460 1%
12 Travel, Vacations, and Timeshare 6,712 1%
13 Office Supplies and Services 5,723 1%
14 Grants: Scholarships/Educational & Non-Educational 5,310 1%
15 Employment Agencies/Job Counselors/Overseas Work 4,485 1%
16 Investments 630 1%
Other Coded Complaints 12,399 2%

For ID theft, the 18 to 39 age group is especially vulnerable, accounting for 52% of all the ID theft complaints in 2006:

idt2.jpg

One way to fight ID theft is to stay on top of your credit information by checking your credit reports regularly for FREE, but make sure you get them from the ONLY authorized source, annualcreditreport.com. To prevent mis-spelling that could lead to places like freecreditreport.com (if you Google “free credit report,” you will find freecreditreport.com tops the search returns), go directly to FTC website, ftc.gov, and find the blue FREE Annual Credit Reports button on the left side. I order a report for both of us every four months from one of the three credit agencies instead of getting them all at once to maximize the benefit.

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