FTC Publishes Top Consumer Complaints- released March 2011

17 03 2011

The Federal Trade Commissions compiled a list of consumer complaints for last year, 2010..  Among complaints over internet services, imposter scams, internet auctions, foreign money and counterfeit scams, identity theft topped the list captivating 19% of complaints. Debt collection ranked number 2 for top consumer complaints.

Identity Theft is estimated to affect about 9 million Americans a year. Most victims do not find out until they are denied from mortgage or car loan because of credit issues, receive letters from collection agencies for debt that the person never incurred, or receive something in the mail about a house the consumer never bought, apartment they never rented, or a job they didn’t have. It is important for a consumer to protect by monitoring their personal information, such as their credit scores, to prevent identity theft or catch it early before too much damage is done.

The FTC reported 144,150 collection complaints in 2010.  Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan claimed that her office received more than 7,000 debt related consumer complaints last year taking the number one spot on her costumer complain list.  With more people struggling to pay off mortgage loans and credit card debts, consumers worry about their financial future.  For the Illinois Attorney General’s complaint list, identity theft came in at number 2 with more than 3,600 complaints about fraudulent credit card charges, utilities opened in the victim’s name, and bank fraud.

For the first time, Imposter Scams made the list of complaints for 2010.  This growing crime includes people posing as friends, family, or trusted businesses or government agencies to get consumers to send them money.  Consumers should be wary of any entity that wants them to wire money, pay to collect winnings, or claim to be with a government agency or someone you care about, or want you to act immediately. 

A favorite impostor scam during tax season is the fake Internal Revenue Service e-mail. The target of the fraud gets an e-mail with an official-looking IRS logo demanding a credit card number to settle a tax debt. If the potential victim doesn’t come through, the e-mail warns, the agency will take action by garnishing the person’s wages or placing a lien on his or her home.

The IRS doesn’t contact taxpayers by e-mail or even by phone, but by email.  A person who doesn’t know that might be shaken enough to click on the link in the e-mail and plug in a credit card number.

Another impostor fraud, the grandchild scam, used to target seniors by phone. An elderly person would get a call from someone claiming to be his or her grandchild in distress, wrongly arrested in a foreign country and desperately in need of money to get out of jail. But because the grandchild scam required a gullible senior, who was perhaps forgetful or hard of hearing, con artists have moved on to pastures where the potential victims are more plentiful: social networks.

Impostor Scams should contact the FTC immediately http://www.ftc.gov/

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