Identity theft tops consumer complaint list in 2013: FTC

Identity theft tops consumer complaint list in 2013: FTC

Summary: The Federal Trade Commission says it received nearly 300,000 identity-theft complaints from consumers last year, easily outpacing gripes about debt collectors, banks and mobile service providers.


Crooked auto mechanics, obnoxious debt collectors and garden-variety scam artists all bring a potent dose of misery to American consumers every day, but it's the identity thieves who are really driving them insane.

Last year, the Federal Trade Commission received 290,016 identity-theft complaints from consumers – or 14 percent of the more than 2 million total complaints. The next closest complaint category, debt collectors, checked in at 10 percent of all grievances followed by banks and lenders (7 percent), imposter scams (6 percent) and telephone and mobile services (6 percent).

Keep in mind, these figures only account for the people who actually took the time to call the FTC or report a complaint on its website.

High-profile incidents such as the massive breaches at Target, Neiman Marcus and other popular retailers keep fueling the identify theft fire, providing cybercrooks with fresh banking and personal information to perpetuate their illicit craft and giving consumers more reasons to freak out.

"Americans of all ages are vulnerable to identity theft, and it remains the most common consumer complaint to the Commission," Jessica Rich, director of the Bureau of Consumer Protection, said in the FTC report.

In total, Americans reported losing more than $1.6 billion to fraud of all types last year. Of the identity theft complaints, 30 percent were tax- or wage-related – the largest subsector within the category.

Twenty percent of identity theft complaints were filed by people 20-29 years of age, suggesting that millennials are either the most popular targets of cyberthieves, the most likely to put their data at risk, the most willing to take the time to file a complaint or a combination of all three factors.

Topics: Security, E-Commerce, Mobility


Larry Barrett is a freelance journalist and blogger who has covered the information technology and business sectors for more than 15 years.

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  • Another sign of out failing education system

    "The Federal Trade Commission says it received nearly 300,000 identify theft complaints from consumers last year"

    Sad that 300,000 people don't know how to identify theft. Really it isn't very hard, you had something and now its gone.

    • Another sign of out < our

      Is another sign of failing to have edit on this site. :-)
      • Re: editing

        They had it a few years back, but then they did an update of the site and editing was never seen again.

        For that matter one could add certain html tags, such as italics and bold, to one's text to make it more legible or show emphasis, but even the number of accepted tags has been pared down to almost nothing, now. So much so, that I have gotten into the habit of rereading whatever I type here in hopes of catching my most blatant typos, but even so, some still sneak through.
        • You were able to delete your post and all comments by addinging

          Or, ... ZDNet is still propaganda for Microsoft, but has to play a little nicer since people have become educated on an OS that doesn't get infected and doesn't need AV. 14 years for me.
    • hmm, goto fail

      high proportion of users with Apple devices.....
      goto fail vulnerability open to MITM in 2013.....
      connect the dots....
  • Editing

    I know that it bothers me at times when I see mistakes that are obvious. People, this is not a college writing and composition class. The point gets across just fine. Back to the subject of conversation, we to learn and educate consumers on the importance of protecting their data and the severe consequences it may have on individuals.
    • Glass Houses

      It is amazing that many of those who complain about identity theft are also people who would not hesitate to take work "home" with them on mobile devices that includes identity data of others without assuring adequate protection in the event the device is lost and/or stolen. I see it all of the time.
  • Blame the people

    Too many people put too much information on the Internet. for example, I have a Facebook account but I have limited number of "friends". Most are actually family. I found someone I know and would you believe, not even "friending" the person, she left so much information for anyone to see [friend or not]. P:ictures, roughly where she lives, age bracket,...]. It's a gold mine for identity theft people. Which is why I tell people go into your settings [not just Facebook but especially privacy-less Google, Skype and others] to check your settings.