Financial Fraud Law

Consumers Lost Over $1.6 Billion to Financial Fraud Last Year, Report Finds

 American consumers lost over $1.6 billion to financial fraud in 2013, according to the FTC’s annual report on consumer complaints. The report also found that the top consumer complaint was identity theft.

“Americans of all ages are vulnerable to identity theft, and it remains the most common consumer complaint to the Commission,” said Jessica Rich, director of the FTC Bureau of Consumer Protection.

The FTC received more than two million complaints overall, as reported in the agency’s Consumer Sentinel Network Data Book 2013, of which 290,056, or 14 percent, were identity theft related. Thirty percent of these incidents were tax- or wage-related, which continued to be the largest category within identity theft complaints.

The highest reported age group for identity theft was 20-29, with 20 percent of complaints.

Of the more than 1.1 million fraud complaints (classified separately from identity theft) the FTC received, 61 percent of consumers reported an amount of money they had paid, which collectively added up to more than $1.6 billion.

The top 10 complaint categories include:

Category

Number of Complaints

Percentages

Identity Theft

290,056

14%

Debt Collection

204,644

10%

Banks and Lenders

152,707

7%

Imposter Scams

121,720

6%

Telephone and Mobile Services

116,261

6%

Prizes, Sweepstakes, and Lotteries

89,944

4%

Auto Related Complaints

82,701

4%

Shop-at-Home and Catalog Sales

66,024

3%

Television and Electronic Media

53,087

3%

Advance Payment for Credit Services

50,422

2%

The report detailed national data, as well as a state-by-state accounting of top complaint categories and a listing of the metropolitan areas that generated the most complaints. This included the top 50 metropolitan areas for both fraud complaints and identity theft complaints. Florida was the state with the highest per capita rate of reported identity theft and fraud complaints, followed by Georgia and California for identity theft complaints, and Nevada and Georgia for fraud and other complaints.

The FTC enters complaints into the Consumer Sentinel Network, a secure online database available to more than 2,000 civil and criminal law enforcement agencies across the country. Agencies use the data to research cases, identify victims and track possible targets.

 Contact the author at smeyerow@optonline.net

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