According to a recent press release from the Federal Trade Commission, identity theft complaints continue to rank number one in the FTC’s list of complaints, with a 32% increase over 2011. Of the 369,132 complaints reported in 2012, 46.4% involved issues with government documents or benefits fraud. This represents a drastic spike of nearly 70% over the same types of cases last year.
In a state by state comparison, Florida continues to rank first in this type of identity theft, with 72% of the reported complaints involving government tax or benefits fraud. Georgia (+66%), Mississippi (+58%), Michigan (+54%) and Louisiana (+53%) rounded out the top five states.
The growth in reporting government ID theft, as well as the increase in reporting from several smaller states, could be a reflection of either an increase in this type of crime, or an increase in awareness and reporting of this type of identity theft. It is likely a combination of the two. While the IRS doesn’t report complaints directly to the FTC Consumer Sentinel Network, its dedicated effort to build consumer awareness and education about the issue of tax fraud has likely contributed to consumers more often reporting this issue to the FTC, thus capturing this growth.
As with any type of identity theft, consumers need to have a better understanding of what has occurred, in order to further understand who they need to report the issue to – in this case, either law enforcement, a Better Business Bureau, another reporting government agency, or directly to the FTC.
In 2012 the number of complaints reported to the Consumer Sentinel Network grew to 2,061,495 up from 1,895,012 in 2011, for an increase of nearly nine percent.
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