The Federal Trade Commission recently released the list of the most common consumer complaints in 2010. Identity theft topped the list for the eleventh year in a row. The FTC received 1,339,265
in 2010, and 250,854, or 19%, involved identity theft. In second place, there were 144,159 debt collection complaints.
For the first time, “imposter scams,” in which imposters pose as friends, family, respected companies, or government agencies in order to persuade consumers to send money, made the top ten. The FTC has issued a new
consumer alert to help consumers avoid imposter scams.
FTC spokeswoman Claudia Bourne Farrell
commented, “Most people don’t know how their identity was stolen. If you lose your wallet on Monday and Tuesday someone starts using your cards, you have a pretty good educated guess. Otherwise you don’t. And how would you know if someone stole your identity
on the Internet?”
More than half of complaints to the FTC involved some other type of fraud. 45% of those scams were initiated via email, including phishing emails. 11% of the scams originated from websites, and 19% were initiated over the phone.
Protect yourself from identity theft and other varieties of fraud by locking your mailbox to prevent stolen mail, storing sensitive paperwork in a locked file cabinet, and shredding any documents that include a name or account number before discarding them.
Protect your PC by installing antivirus and spyware removal software, and keeping your PC’s critical security patches updated.