Debt collection ranks second in the Federal Trade Commission's annual list of consumer complaints, trailing only identity theft, according to the report released Thursday.
The FTC received more than two million complaints overall, as reported in the agencys Consumer Sentinel Network Data Book 2013, of which 290,056, or 14 percent, were identity theft related. Thirty percent of these incidents were tax- or wage-related, which continues to be the largest category within identity theft complaints.
Consumers reported losing more than $1.6 billion to fraud overall in 2013. The highest reported age group for identity theft is 20-29, with 20 percent of complaints. Rich says that educating consumers on the topic is a top priority for the agency and the FTC offers resources on the topic, including Signs of Identity Theft, Immediate Steps to Repair Identity Theft and How to Keep Your Personal Information Secure.
Of the more than 1.1 million fraud complaints (classified separately from identity theft) the FTC received, 61 percent of consumers reported an amount of money they had paid, which collectively added up to more than $1.6 billion.
The top 10 complaint categories include:
1. Identity Theft - 290,056 complaints (14 percent of the total)
2. Debt Collection - 204,644 (10 percent)
3. Banks and Lenders - 152,707 (7 percent)
4. Imposter Scams - 121,720 (6 percent)
5. Telephone and Mobile Services - 116,261 (6 percent)
6. Prizes, Sweepstakes and Lotteries - 89,944 (4 percent)
7. Auto-Related Complaints - 82,701 (4 percent)
8. Shop-at-Home and Catalog Sales - 66,024 (3 percent)
9. Television and Electronic Media - 53,087 (3 percent)
10. Advance Payment for Credit Services - 50,422 (2 percent)
The report details 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. Florida is the state with the highest per capita rate of reported identity theft and fraud complaints, followed by Georgia and California for identity theft complaints, and Nevada and Georgia for fraud and other complaints.
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.