Identity theft tops consumer complaints...again

February 27, 2014: 3:00 PM ET
top comsumer complaints

Identity thieves were once again consumers' greatest gripe last year, followed by pesky debt collectors and frustrating banks and lenders.

Of the more than 2 million complaints made to the Federal Trade Commission, law enforcement and consumer protection agencies, nearly 300,000 (or 14%) were related to identity theft, according to the FTC's annual tally.

Complaint category % of total complaints
1) Identify theft 14%
2) Debt Collection 10%
3) Banks and lenders 7%
4) Imposter scams 6%
5) Telephone and mobile services 6%
6) Prizes, sweepstakes and lotteries 4%
7) Auto related complaints 4%
8) Shop-at-home and catalog sales 3%
9) Television and electronic media 3%
10) Advance payment for credit card services 2%

Beyond identity theft, the agency received more than 1.1 million complaints about various fraud schemes, which led to losses of more than $1.6 billion for consumers. The FTC did not have an estimate of identity-theft related losses.

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Roughly a third of the identity-theft complaints came from consumers who said their personal information had been stolen and used in government documents, such filing a false tax return or applying for government benefits.

Meanwhile, around one-quarter of the identity-theft complaints were about bank or credit card fraud.

Rounding out the top three complaints were problems with debt collectors (10%), including repeated or profane phone calls and misrepresentations of the amounts owed, followed by complaints about banks and lenders (7%), ranging from the use of predatory lending practices to fees and overdraft charges.

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Many consumers said they had fallen victim to other frauds as well, including phony sweepstakes and so-called "imposter scams," a popular scheme where fraudsters pose as a loved one in need.

Florida, Nevada, California and Georgia were complaint hotspots, with the highest ratios based on state populations.

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