The Federal Trade Commission has released it’s list of top complaints from consumers in 2010.
For the 11th year in a row, the No. 1 concern was identity theft.
Out of the 1.3-million complaints filed with the FTC last year, 19% had something to do with identity theft. That’s more than 250,000 people who actually reported their issues.
So if identity theft has been the biggest consumer complaint for more than a decade – why has it been such a problem trying to stop these types of crimes?
One reason could be the slow economy. The co-founder of the site Identity Theft 911 says it’s often up to state governments to lead the fight against identity theft – but that hasn’t been easy with the U.S. struggling to emerge from a recession.
“The frontline in the war against identity theft for years has always been the states, and yet every state is in total economic disarray,” Adam Levin of Identity Theft 911 told Maya Jackson Randal from Dow Jones Newswires.
Another possible sign that the economy is a factor in the ongoing identity theft issue can be found in the most common type of identity theft.
15.5% of the more than 250,000 complaints were related to fraudulent government documents. That’s basically someone stealing another person’s identity in order to obtain government benefits like unemployment or welfare. So it would make sense to conclude that many of those who try to get away with that type of identity theft have been affected by the slow economy.
Advances in technology are another reason why identity theft continues to be such a huge problem for many Americans.
The more devices we own and networks we are a part of, the more avenues we create for potential criminals to access our sensitive personal information.
Identity theft concerns with smartphones are quickly becoming a popular way for criminals to access your private data. As more and more Americans start using their smartphones for mobile banking or to make purchases, more and more criminals will gravitate towards the opportunity to steal your identity.
The state that saw the most issues with identity theft was Florida. You may assume that’s because there are many retirees and senior citizens who call that state home. But hold your horses…statistics actually show that the highest number of identity theft victims were the 20 to 29 year-olds.
Could part of the reason be because that age group typically uses technology more often?
Technology can also help you prevent identity theft. But criminals will always be looking for away around the latest techniques we use to try and foil them. That’s why it’s important to always keep an eye on your monthly credit card and bank account statements, get your free credit report at least once a year, and take precautions in your everyday life.
For instance – don’t purchase from websites you feel are untrustworthy, shred documents with sensitive information before you throw them away, and avoid putting personal checks in your mailbox for thieves to potentially steal.
There was some good news in the FTC report on consumer complaints. People are becoming more vigilant about reporting identity theft.
In 2008, only 36% of identity theft victims contacted authorities. In 2009, that number jumped to 73% and stayed practically flat at 72% in 2010.
Here’s the complete list of the top ten consumer complaints for 2010. You can find out more by viewing the Federal Trade Commission’s report.
|Rank||Category||Number of Complaints||Percentage|
|4||Prizes, Sweepstakes and Lotteries||64,085||5%|
|5||Shop-at-Home and Catalog Sales||60,205||4%|
|8||Foreign Money/Counterfeit Check Scams||43,866||3%|
|9||Telephone and Mobile Services||37,388||3%|
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