ID Theft Tops FTC Fraud List Again

For the fourth year in a row, reports of identity theft topped the Federal Trade Commission's list of consumer complaints in 2003, which the agency released yesterday.

Identity theft represented 42 percent of all complaints received by the FTC in 2003. The agency got more than 516,000 consumer complaints in 2003, up from about 404,000 in 2002.

Identity theft represented 40 percent of complaints in 2002. About 55 percent of total complaints in 2003 were related to Internet fraud, up from 40 percent in 2002.

The median loss for all fraud victims reported to the FTC was $228. Median Internet fraud victim loss was $195.

The metropolitan areas of Washington, Seattle and San Diego had the highest per capita incidence of reported fraud, though the FTC noted that higher reporting rates do not necessarily indicate higher overall rates of fraud when non-reported incidents are taken into account.

The Phoenix, Los Angeles and Riverside/San Bernardino, CA, metropolitan areas had the highest per capita rates of identity theft fraud reports.

Of fraud complaints unrelated to identity theft in 2003, the following categories led the report:

· Internet auctions, 15 percent.

· Shop-at-home and catalog sales, 9 percent.

· Internet services and computer complaints, 6 percent.

· Prizes, sweepstakes and lotteries, 5 percent.

· Foreign money offers, 4 percent.

· Advance-fee loans and credit protection, 4 percent.

· Telephone services, 3 percent.

· Business opportunities and work-at-home, 2 percent.

· Magazine buyers clubs, 1 percent.

· Office supplies and services, 1 percent.

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