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ID Theft

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The incidence of identity theft in the USA is troubling and growing. New data from the Federal Trade Commission show that ID theft makes up 43% of all consumer fraud complaints. The FTC says fraud complaints filed in 2002 hit 380,000 compared to 220,000 in 2001. The dollar loss consumers attributed to the reported fraud also grew from $160 million in 2001 to $343 million in 2002. For three consecutive years ID theft has ranked as the #1 complaint in the FTC’s annual top 10 consumer complaint report. The data were gathered in the FTC’s “Consumer Sentinel” database. Forty percent of the complaints in the “Sentinel” database come through data contributors like the Social Security Administration’s Office of Inspector General, the Internet Fraud Complaint Center, the National Consumers League’s National Fraud Information Center, and many, many Better Business Bureaus around the country. The top 10 categories of consumer fraud complaints in 2002 include: Internet Auctions – 13% Internet Services and Computer Complaints – 6% Advance Fee Loans and Credit Protection – 5% Shop-at-Home/Catalog Sales – 5% Foreign Money Offers – 4% Prizes/Sweepstakes and Lotteries – 4% Business Opportunity and Work-at-Home Plans – 3% Telephone Services – 2% Health Care – 2% Magazines and Buyers Clubs – 2%.

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