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

PHOTO: Social security card, passport and money
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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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