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Identity theft and impostor scams among top consumer complaints last year, FTC says

March 8, 2011 | 12:00 pm

The Federal Trade Commission received more complaints about identity theft in 2010 than any other issue.

A total of 1.3 million complaints came into the FTC last year and 19%, or 250,854, of those were related to identity theft, the government agency said in a report released on Tuesday.

This marks the 11th year in a row that the FTC received more identity theft complaints than anything else -- a problem that has persisted over the years as more and more information is shared on the Internet.

Not surprisingly, debt collection came in second place, with 144,159 complaints, or 11% of the total, the FTC said.

And for the first time, impostor scams -- in which impostors pose as friends, family, corporations or government agencies in an effort to get people to send money or share personal information -- cracked into the top 10 issues about which consumers filed FTC complaints.

The FTC also released a consumer guide online on Monday called "Spotting an Imposter," which warns of impostor scams that use "phone calls, e-mails, letters, faxes or even text messages in their deceptions."

In announcing the annual report this year, the FTC also pointed out that consumers can "Like" the FTC on Facebook and follow the agency on Twitter.

Here's the top 10 most complained-about consumer issues for 2010, from the FTC:

Category No. of complaints Percentage
1 Identity Theft
2 Debt Collection
144,159 11%
3 Internet Services
4 Prizes, Sweepstakes and Lotteries
64,085 5%
5 Shop-at-Home and Catalog Sales
60,205 4%
6 Impostor Scams
60,158 4%
Internet Auctions
56,107 4%
Foreign Money/Counterfeit Check Scams 43,866 3%
9 Telephone and Mobile Services 37,388 3%
10 Credit Cards
33,258 2


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