Identity theft and debt collection complaints topped the Federal Trade Commission's list of top complaints received by the agency last year. ID theft complaints led the way for the 12th consecutive year.
Of more than 1.8 million complaints filed last year, 279,156 or 15%, were identity theft complaints. Nearly 25% of those complaints related to tax- or wage-related fraud.
The report breaks out complaint data on a state-by-state basis and also contains data about the 50 metropolitan areas reporting the highest per capita incidence of fraud and other complaints. In addition, the 50 metropolitan areas reporting the highest incidence of identity theft are noted.
Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach, Fla. Metropolitan Statistical Area led the list with 17,546 ID theft-related complaints.
After ID theft, the next four total top complaint categories are:
2. Collection Complaints, 180,928 (10%)
3. Prizes, Sweepstakes, Lotteries, 100,208 (6%)
4. Shop-at-Home and Catalog Sales, 98,306 (5%)
5. Banks and Lenders, 89,341 (5%)
Advance-Fee Loans and Credit Protection/Repair came in at 10th on the list with 47,414 complaints (3%).
The FTC enters complaints into Consumer Sentinel, an online database available to more than 2,000 civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the United States and abroad. Enforcers search the database to research cases, track targets, and identify victims.
"The FTC's Consumer Sentinel Network is an incredibly powerful tool for law enforcers who are working to protect consumers and go after the bad guys," says David Vladeck, director of the agency's Bureau of Consumer Protection. "It's used by agencies across the country and around the world to enhance their enforcement efforts."
Other federal and state law enforcement agencies contribute complaints to the Consumer Sentinel Network, including the U. S. Postal Inspection Service, the Department of Justice's Internet Crime Complaint Center, and the Offices of the Idaho, Michigan, Mississippi, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Tennessee, and Washington Attorneys General. Private-sector organizations that contribute complaints include all U.S. and Canadian members of the Better Business Bureau, Western Union and Moneygram, and the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.
"The Consumer Sentinel Network is a treasure trove of information for law enforcers," says Richard Cordray, director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. "We plan to contribute consumer complaints we receive at the CFPB to the Network and urge other state and local law enforcers to join the Network, too."