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Credit Card Applications » News » Legal » Identity Theft Tops Consumer Complaint List

Identity Theft Tops Consumer Complaint List

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Identity Theft Tops Consumer Complaint List
March
1

Identity theft was the top problem reported to the Federal Trade Commission in 2012. It was the subject of 18% of the more than 2 million consumer complaints were received by the FTC last year. The second biggest complaint category involveddebt collection companies.

Credit card complaints were at the bottom of the top tenlist, accounting for only 3% of the problems. Here are the top 10 complaint categories:

  1. Identity theft – 18%
  2. Debt collection – 10%
  3. Banks and lenders – 6%
  4. Shop-at-home and catalog sales – 6%
  5. Prizes, sweepstakes and lotteries – 5%
  6. Imposter scams – 4%
  7. Internet services – 4%
  8. Auto-related complaints – 4%
  9. Telephone and mobile services – 4%
  10. Credit cards – 3%

The FTC records complaints ina secure online database that is available to law enforcement agencies throughout the United States. The Consumer Sentinel Network can be accessed by more than 2,000 civil and criminal agencies that use the data to track suspects, research cases and identify crime victims.

The FTC is not the only agency that contributes data to the network – the Better Business Bureau, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the Federal Bureau of Investigation also add information to the system.

Protecting yourself from identity theft

The FTC specifies three types of identity theft on its consumer education website – tax-related identity theft, child identity theft, and medical identity theft.

Signs of identity theft may include:

  • Unexplained withdrawals from your bank account
  • Not getting bills or other mail
  • Checks being refused by merchants
  • Calls from debt collectors about debts you don’t owe
  • Unfamiliar accounts on your credit report
  • Receiving medical bills that aren’t yours
  • Having medical claims rejected due to conditions you don’t have
  • Notifications from the IRS that you have filed multiple tax returns

To protect yourself from identity theft, the FTC offers these tips:

  • Keep financial records in a safe place
  • Limit the amount of personal information you carry
  • Shred receipts, credit card offers and applications, insurance forms, checks, bank statements and other sensitive documents
  • Destroy prescription medication labels before you throw out the bottles
  • Put mail in post office collection boxes or take it to the post office – do not  leave it in your mailbox
  • Do not have new checks mailed to your home
  • Keep online passwords secret and use software to encrypt your data online
  • Do not share your Social Security number unless you are sure it is absolutely necessary
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