The Federal Trade Commission has released the Consumer Sentinel Network Data Book, its annual report of complaints filed with the FTC and other state organizations. The report tracks consumer complaints by categories such as fraud, identity theft, and other. Fraud complaints span 30 different categories, including debt collection, bank/lending services, prizes/sweepstakes/lotteries, impostor scams, shop-at-home and catalog sales, and foreign money offers/counterfeit check scams. Identity theft complaints include credit card fraud, government documents/benefits fraud, phone/utilities fraud, bank fraud, loan fraud, and employment-related fraud.
The report reveals that more than 1.8 million complaints were filed during 2011, up from 1.4 million in 2010. Of those complaints:
- Approximately 55% were related to fraud and 15% related to identity theft.
- 56% of consumers reporting fraud said the initial method of contact with the offending party was via email or Internet websites.
- Government documents/benefits fraud (27%) was the most common form of identity theft, an increase of 11% since 2009, followed by credit card fraud (14%), phone/utilities fraud (14%), and bank fraud (9%).
- Top 5 states with the highest per capita rate of fraud complaints:
- Top 5 states with the highest per capita rate of identity theft complaints:
The complaints are collected and stored by the Consumer Sentinel Network, Identity Theft Data Clearinghouse, Econsumer.gov, and Consumer Sentinel/Military for law enforcement purposes. The databases are only accessible to law enforcement personnel, but others may access the summary report here.