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ID theft tops consumer complaint list--again

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NEW YORK (3/6/12)--For the 12th year in the row, identity theft is the No. 1 consumer complaint, according to information released last week by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) ( Feb. 28).

Of more than 1.8 million complaints filed in 2011, roughly 15% were related to identity theft. Nearly one-quarter of those were tax- or wage-related fraud.

The top 10 complaints:

  1. Identity theft (15%);
  2. Debt collection (10%);
  3. Prizes, sweepstakes, lotteries (6%);
  4. Shop-at-home, catalog sales (5%);
  5. Banks and lenders (5%);
  6. Internet services (5%);
  7. Auto-related complaints (4%);
  8. Imposter scams (4%);
  9. Telephone and mobile services (4%); and
  10. Advance-fee loans and credit protection/repair (3%).
Consumers reported paying more than $1.5 billion for fraudulent schemes. The median amount paid to fraudsters was $537. And a whopping 43% of victims said they were targeted by e-mail.

To file a consumer complaint in English or Spanish, use the FTC's Complaint Assistant at From that website, members of the U.S. armed forces can file complaints with Consumer Sentinel Military, which helps identify and target consumer protection issues affecting service members and their families. And allows you to file complaints against an entity in another country. 

For more information, read "Child ID Theft: When Ignorance Isn't Bliss" in the Home & Family Finance Resource Center.