FTC: ID theft cases surge; 20-somethings biggest percentage of complaints

The number of identification theft cases surged in 2008, according to the Federal Trade Commission's annual data. In 2008, ID theft was by far the biggest complaint to the FTC, representing 26 percent of complaints.

The number of identification theft cases surged in 2008, according to the Federal Trade Commission's annual data. 

In 2008, ID theft was by far the biggest complaint to the FTC, representing 26 percent of complaints. The next biggest complaint--third party and creditor debt collection scams--represented only 9 percent of complaints. The FTC's annual Consumer Sentinel Network report, released Feb. 26, detailed that ID theft complaints totaled 313,982 in 2008, up from 259,266 in 2007. 

The Consumer Sentinel Network is a secure online database that harvests complaints from law enforcement authorities as well as other groups such as the Internet Crime Complaint Center and Better Business Bureau.

Here are the top 25 complaint categories, which often dovetail with the Internet. 

Meanwhile, email is clearly the preferred means of propagating fraud. Scam artists are most likely going to nail you via email. Phone scams have fallen from 11 percent to 7 percent from 2007 to 2008. My hunch: As more consumers use wireless as the primary phone it's harder to track down victims. 

What's also notable is the demographics. Twenty-somethings are most likely to get hit with ID theft. 

And the states most hit by ID theft: