ID Theft Remains No. 1 Consumer Complaint

ID Theft Remains No. 1 Consumer Complaint
Consumers filed more than 255,000 identity theft reports to the Federal Trade Commission in 2005, accounting for more than a third of all complaints.

According to the FTC's most recent report, Internet-related complaints accounted for 46% of all fraud complaints in 2005. The most common form of ID theft was credit-card fraud, followed by telephone or utility fraud, bank fraud, and employment fraud.

Washington, D.C., had the highest per-capita fraud rate, followed by Tampa, Fla., and Seattle.

According to another study, for the year, Americans lost nearly $57 billion to ID theft. But you may be surprised to learn that online fraud was the culprit in only 10% of the cases.

That study — from the Better Business Bureau and Javelin Strategy & Research — showed that ID theft cost U.S. consumers 4% more in 2005 than the $54.4 billion it cost in 2004. The average fraud rose to $6,383 from $5,885.

Nevertheless, the number of adult Americans who learned that criminals had stolen personal data and used it to commit fraud fell to 8.9 million, or 4%, from 9.3 million in 2004.

Results from the phone survey of 5,000 consumers, including more than 500 ID theft victims, show that while identity theft remains a big problem, consumers are growing less gullible and more vigilant. Indeed, the survey found that victims have a better than one-in-three chance to track down their perpetrators.

The study found that Internet fraud accounts for 9% of ID theft cases. 30% of victims lost data because their wallets, checkbooks, or credit cards were lost or stolen.

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