Back to Newsletters... February 2005 Newsletter

Federal Trade Commission Report: ID Theft #1 Complaint

Chances are good that either you or someone you know will be the victim of identity theft or other fraud.

On Monday, February 7, 2005, The Federal Trade Commission released its annual report of consumer complaints, and topping the list, for the fifth year in a row: identity theft.

One metropolitan area alone, St. Louis, Missouri, the FTC reported 856 victims of identity theft last year.

But most people are too embarrassed to report fraud. One FTC survey found that just one in 12 of fraud victims complained to a government agency.

Many people think they are too smart to ever become a victim of fraud. They figure they'll be able to spot a con game.

Don't count on it, government investigators say.

In just one year, the FTC says 25 million adults, more than 11 percent of the adult population, have been victims of consumer frauds.

"That's huge," said C. Steven Baker, director of the Federal Trade Commission's Midwest office in Chicago. "That practically guarantees that one of your friends or family has been a victim."

He says it's not like the old days, when fraud meant mostly looking out for door-to-door con artists.

"These people are spread out all over the world," he said "The world of fraud has changed and the crooks are ahead of us in some of this, unfortunately."

Nationally, identity theft accounted for nearly four of every 10 of the 635,173 consumer frauds reported to the FTC's Consumer Sentinel Complaint hot line. Federal agencies and local police can access the 2 million complaints in the database.

In all states, credit card fraud was the most common form of reported identity theft, followed by phone or utilities fraud and bank fraud.

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