ID theft was the most common complaint filed with the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) last year, accounting for 42% of all reports lodged in its Consumer Sentinel database.
FTC says identity theft was the most common complaint for the fourth consecutive year. Of the 516,740 complaints received in 2003, 214,905 were identity theft reports, representing a two per cent rise on the 2002 ratio.
Web-related complaints accounted for 55% of all reports, up from 45% in 2002. Internet auctions accounted for 15% of complaints reported.
All complaints received by FTC are recorded in its Consumer Sentinel database, which also includes complaint data from other organisations including the FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Centre, US Postal Inspection Service and The National Consumers League's National Fraud Information Centre.
Howard Beales, director of the FTC's bureau of consumer protection, says more than 900 law enforcement agencies in the US, Canada, and Australia are using the database.
"This model – one central source of consumer fraud data available to law enforcement, reflecting overall trends in fraud, ID theft and emerging scams – is making our work more efficient for law enforcement and more effective for consumers," says Beales.
In the UK, fraud prevention service CIFAS says its data-sharing scheme prevented fraud losses of £487 million for its 240+ member firms last year, an increase of £126 million - or over 35% - compared to 2002.
CIFAS says the change in reporting practices has lead to a dramatic increase in reported warnings.
However, CIFAS also saw an increase in the number of warnings filed for ID theft, which increased 37%, although this was down from the 54% increase recorded in 2002.