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FTC says Identity Theft remains top consumer complaint


Identity theft again leads the list of top consumer complaints in 2013. According to the Federal Trade Commission, U.S. consumers reported losing over $1.6 billion to various types of fraud in a report released on February 27, 2014.

“This (identify theft) has topped the list since at least 2006,” said David Torok, director of the FTC's Division of Planning and Information.

Florida had the highest per capita rate of fraud, with 804.9 people reporting a problem out of every 100,000 in population, the FTC said in its report for 2013. North Dakota had the lowest rate of reported fraud.

The average victim lost $2,294, according to the FTC, which said that 61 percent of those defrauded in 2013 put a dollar value on their losses.

“Americans of all ages are vulnerable to identity theft,” said Jessica Rich, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. But consumers between the ages of 20-29 appear to be the highest target of identity thieves. The report showed that approximately one in five identity theft-related complaints were filed by the 20-something age group, the highest of any age group.

Steps to take when credit identity theft occurs

Massive security breaches like Target and Neiman Marcus continue to fuel the identify theft fire by providing thieves with new banking and personal information to continue illicit behavior. But if you are a victim of credit identity theft there are some steps you can immediately take to stop the damage before it becomes insurmountable:

1. Freeze your credit. A security freeze will prevent new credit from being opened.

2. Fraud alert. A fraud alert on your credit reports will require a lender to take certain measures to verify your identity before opening new credit.

3. FTC Identity Theft Complaint. File an initial complaint with the FTC.

4. Create an Identity Theft Affidavit. The FTC provides an Identity Theft Affidavit which will help you create an Identity Theft Report. An Identity Theft Report will help you deal with credit reporting companies, debt collectors, and businesses that gave the identity thief credit or opened new accounts in your name. An identity theft report can get negative information removed from your credit reports resulting from fraudulent accounts along with stopping debt collectors from pursuing you for unpaid debt due to fraudulent accounts.

Other Identity Theft

Identity theft complaints also included tax or wage related complaints where an identity thief may use your Social Security number to get a tax refund or a job. To register a complaint with the FTC, file one online or call 1-877-FTC-HELP.

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