FTC Releases 2009 List of Top Consumer Complaints; Identity Theft #1

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The Federal Trade Commission this week released a report listing top complaints consumers filed with the agency in 2009. It shows that while identity theft remains the top complaint category, "reported" identity theft complaints declined 5 percentage points from 2008.

Some of the report's key info includes:

National Statistics

• The report indicates there were over 1.3 million consumer complaints during calendar year 2009 - an 8.6% increase vis-a-vis 2008.  Of the total, 54% were fraud complaints; 21% were identity theft complaints; and 25% were other types of complaints.

• Once again, identity theft was the number one complaint category for calendar year 2009 with 21% of the overall complaints (it represented 26% of the complaints in 2008), followed by Third Party and Creditor Debt Collection (9%); Internet Services (6%); and Shop-at-Home and Catalog Sales (6%). Nevertheless, the actual number of identity theft complaints dropped from 314,484 in 2008 to 278,078 in 2009 - a drop of 11.6%.

Identity Theft

• Credit card fraud (17%) was the most common form of reported identity theft, followed by government documents/benefits fraud (16%), phone or utilities fraud (15%), and employment fraud (13). Other significant categories of identity theft reported by victims were bank fraud (10%) and loan fraud (4%).
• Government documents/benefits fraud increased on a relative basis from 15% of total identity theft complaints in 2008 to 16% in 2009.

• Both Utilities - New Accounts and Wireless -- New Accounts complaints increased on relative basis vis-à-vis 2008.
* Utilities - New Accounts increased from 5.5% to 8.2% of all identity theft complaints
*Wireless - New Accounts increased from 4.1% to 4.6% of all identity theft complaints

• 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, Texas, California and Nevada.

The FTC also released the below animated video that offers examples of what complaints the FTC handles and how people can file a complaint. 

A complete copy of the Report as a PDF and list of complaints can be found here. and click here to watch this video in Spanish.

Also this week:

The FTC Warns of Improper Release of Sensitive Consumer Data on P2P File-Sharing Networks

The Federal Trade Commission has notified almost 100 organizations that personal information, including sensitive data about customers and/or employees, has been shared from the organizations' computer networks and is available on peer-to-peer (P2P) file-sharing networks to any users of those networks, who could use it to commit identity theft or fraud.

The agency also has opened non-public investigations of other companies whose customer or employee information has been exposed on P2P networks. To help businesses manage the security risks presented by file-sharing software, the FTC is releasing new education materials that present the risks and recommend ways to manage them.

Peer-to-peer technology can be used in many ways, such as to play games, make online telephone calls, and, through P2P file-sharing software, share music, video, and documents. But when P2P file-sharing software is not configured properly, files not intended for sharing may be accessible to anyone on the P2P network. More from the FTC Press Release...

To protect yourself from P2P

Tiversa offers P2P intelligence services to businesses but partners with Lifelock to offer protection for consumers. The Lifelock Personal Breach Detection actively monitors unregulated internet and file-sharing networks for their clients' identity information. If a client is at risk, Lifelock sends email alerts to help protect against accidental personal information disclosures. See: Protection is Possible in P2P and an earlier blog: New Tech Identity Theft Protection provides peace of mind. 

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