The Federal Trade Commission recently released its list of the top consumer complaints received by the agency in 2011. For the 12th year in a row, identity theft complaints topped the list. Of more than 1.8 million complaints filed in 2011, 279,156 or 15 percent, were identity theft complaints. Nearly 25 percent of the identity theft 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.
The next nine complaint categories are Debt Collection; prizes, sweepstakes, and lotteries; shop at home and catalogue sales; bank and lenders; internet services; auto related complaints; imposter scams; telephone and mobile services; and advance-fee loans and credit protection/repair.
The FTC enters complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, 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,” said 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.
According to Richard Cordray, Director of the newly created Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, “The Consumer Sentinel Network is a treasure trove of information for law enforcers.”
The Federal Trade Commission works for consumers to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices and to provide information to help spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint in English or Spanish, visit the FTC’s online Complaint Assistant or call 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357). The FTC enters complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to more than 2,000 civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad.