The Federal Trade Commission released its annual Report of National Consumer Complaints for 2012 and for the 13th consecutive year identity theft is the number one complaint reported by consumers. Of the more than $2 million complaints received by the FTC (and other participating law enforcement agencies), approximately 18% (369,132) were related to identity theft. The most common misuse of information reported by victims of identity theft was tax or wage related fraud. Rounding out the top-5 complaint categories after identify theft were Debt Collection (10%), Banks and Lenders (6%), Shop-at-Home and Catalog Sales (6%), and Prizes, Sweepstakes, and Lotteries (6%). Overall, 52% of total complaints were fraud-related.
Identity theft, which is defined in the report as “[w]hen someone appropriates your personal identifying information (like your Social Security number or credit card account number) to commit fraud or theft,” is likely to remain a top concern for the FTC, especially as an increasing amount of sensitive consumer information moves to mobile devices and the “cloud.” This is evident from the FTC’s recent release of security recommendations for mobile app developers, as well as its settlement with HTC over concerns about the security of consumer information collected by mobile software applications.
Other highlights from the report include:
- Consumers reported paying over $1.4 billion in the over one million fraud cases contained in the report, with a median amount paid of $535.
- Though it’s buried in a footnote, Washington, DC had the highest per capita rate of fraud complaints at 752.1 complaints per 100,000 residents. The nation’s capital was third in per capita identity theft complaints at 169.1 complaints per 100,000 residents.
- Florida was second to DC in per capita fraud complaints (693.5 per 100,000) and was by far the number one state for identity theft complaints at 361.3 per 100,000 residents. In fact, ten of the top eleven metropolitan areas for identity theft are in Florida.
- South Dakota had the lowest per capita rate of both fraud and identify theft complaints.
- For fraud complaints, the most popular method of contacting consumers was via email (38%) followed closely by phone (34%).
The full report is available for download here.