I.D. Theft Remains #1 Consumer Complaint

I.D. Theft Remains #1 Consumer Complaint

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What was the chief complaint received by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in 2007? If you guessed “identity theft” credit cardsthen you answered correctly. Last year, the FTC tallied more than 800,000 complaints from consumers with almost one-third that number naming I.D. theft in their complaint.

Credit Card Fraud Leads The Pack

According to an FTC Report released on February 13, credit card fraud was the most common form of reported identity theft at 23 percent, followed by utilities fraud at 18 percent, employment fraud at 14 percent, and bank fraud at 13 percent.

Consumers said that they lost $1.2 billion due to identity theft, averaging $349 per complaint.

Consumers Aren’t Always Sure When Theft Happens

Although identity theft happens, many consumers aren’t sure how it happens or happened to them. Oftentimes a problem surfaces well after the thief has gained access to confidential information, when the most damage has been done. Errors on a credit report, unsubstantiated charges on a credit card statement as well as dunning letters from creditors often tip consumers off, but by then the worst has taken place.

FTC Recommendations For Consumers

For identity-theft victims, the FTC recommends taking these steps:

  • Place a fraud alert on credit reports and review credit reports. Contact any of the three consumer reporting companies to place the fraud alert.

  • Close accounts believed or known to have been tampered with. Follow up in writing, and include copies, rather than originals, of documents.

  • File a complaint with the FTC, which can refer complaints to other agencies and companies for further action, and investigate companies for violations.

  • File a report with local police or law enforcement in the area where the identity theft took place.

You may not be able to stop i.d. theft completely, but you can have a hand in stemming the tide. Make sure that you obtain copies of your credit reports on a regular basis, examine them, and notify the credit bureaus when errors are found.

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