TriWest Healthcare Alliance – Identity Theft Alert
Every year the Federal Trade Commision releases its Top 10 fraud complaints of the year. Ever since the year 2000, identity theft has topped the list. This year, the fraud of 380,000 people was reported to the FTC. Here’s their official statement:
The Federal Trade Commission has released its annual report detailing consumer complaints about identity theft and listing the top 10 fraud complaint categories reported by consumers. As in 2000 and 2001, identity theft topped the list, accounting for 43 percent of the complaints lodged in the FTC’s Consumer Sentinel database. The number of fraud complaints jumped from 220,000 in 2001 to 380,000 in 2002, and the dollar loss consumers attributed to the fraud they reported grew from $160 million in 2001 to $343 million in 2002.
“The FTC provides a clearinghouse for consumers,” said J. Howard Beales III, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “We are the portal through which consumers can enter complaints and receive assistance and guidance.” Beales said consumers can file fraud complaints online at www.ftc.gov. Identity theft victims, or people seeking tips to avoid being a victim, can log on at http://www.consumer.gov/idtheft.
Beales said the increased numbers of complaints from 2001 to 2002 had several possible explanations. “One of them has to do with the success of our outreach efforts – that is, more people know where to complain about fraud and ID theft. That’s important because more complaints give us a more complete picture of the types of fraud that are occurring, the characteristics of fraud victims, and the companies that are appropriate targets for law enforcement,” he said.
“Another explanation – or another part of the explanation – has to do with the increase in the number of partners to Consumer Sentinel who contribute and use data for enforcement purposes,” Beales said. 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, Beales said.
The top 10 categories of consumer fraud complaints in 2002 include:
Identity Theft – 43%
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%