The Federal Trade Commission has released its February 2013 104-page Consumer Sentinel Network Data Book for January – December 2012.
Identity theft tops the list for the 13th consecutive year in a report of national consumer complaints. 2012 marks the first year in which the FTC received more than 2 million complaints overall, and 369,132, or 18 percent, were related to identity theft. Of those, more than 43 percent related to tax- or wage-related fraud.
The report gives 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 includes the top 50 metropolitan areas for both fraud complaints and identity theft complaints.
The remainder of complaint categories making up the top 10 are:
Banks and Lenders
Shop-at-Home and Catalog Sales
Prizes, Sweepstakes and Lotteries
Telephone and Mobile Services
A complete list of all complaint categories is available on page six of the report.
The FTC enters complaints into the Consumer Sentinel Network, a secure online database that is 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.
Other federal and state law enforcement agencies contribute to Consumer Sentinel, including the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Internet Crime Complaint Center, and the offices of 14 state attorneys general. Private-sector organizations contributing data include all Better Business Bureaus in the U.S. and Canada, PrivacyStar, Publishers Clearing House and others.