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Tuesday
Feb262013

Identity Theft Tops Consumer Complaints

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Identity theft, led by a sharp rise in reports of tax return refund hijacking, topped the Federal Trade Commission's list of complaints received last year.

The FTC received over two million complaints last year, and 18 percent were related to identity theft --that's up 3 percentage points from the prior year. Of those 369,132 identity theft complaints, more than 43 percent were tax- or wage-related fraud.

Over one million complaints were fraud-related with total losses of over $1.4 billion, the FTC said. The average amount lost by consumers who complained to the FTC was $2,350.

Government documents or benefits fraud (46 percent) was the most common form of reported identity theft. The second most reported form of identity theft was credit card fraud (13 percent) followed by phone or utilities fraud (10 percent), and bank fraud (6 percent).

Complaints about government documents or benefits fraud increased 27 percentage points since 2010. The FTC said tax or wage-related fraud accounted for the growth in this area, with 43.4 percent of identity theft victims reporting this problem in 2012

Reports of tax refund identity theft skyrocketed, according to the Government Accountability Office.

The Internal Revenue Service identified 641,690 incidents of identity theft involving tax fraud in 2012 as of Sept. 30. That is a nearly three-fold increase from the 232,142 incidents reported in 2011.

The FTC's full report describing the type of complaints received and categorized by metropolitan areas show Florida is the state with the highest per capita rate of reported fraud and other types of complaints, followed by Georgia and Maryland. Florida also had the highest per capita rate of reported identity theft complaints, followed by Georgia and California.

Click HERE for the full report from the FTC.

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