Identity theft accounted for 39 percent of the 635,173 consumer fraud complaints filed with the Federal Trade Commission in 2004, making it the top consumer complaint for five years in a row.


The major metropolitan areas with the highest per-capita rates of reported identity theft were Phoenix-Mesa Scottsdale, Ariz.; Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, Calif.; and Las Vegas-Paradise, Nev.


“These are real people who have lost real money and the FTC offers them a direct link to finding a solution,” said Chairman Deborah Platt Majoras.


Consumers can file fraud and identity theft complaints at the FTC Web site. The agency enters the information into its Consumer Sentinel database, which is accessible to more than 1,200 law enforcement agencies.


According to the FTC’s annual report detailing consumer complaints, the top categories of consumer fraud complaints for 2004 were Internet auctions, shot-at-home catalog sales, Internet services and computer complaints, foreign money offers, prizes/sweepstakes and lotteries, advance-fee loans and credit protection, business opportunities and work-at-home, and telephone services.


Other findings from the report include:


  • Of the 635,173 complaints received in 2004, 246,570 were identity theft reports and 388,603 were fraud complaints.

  • Internet-related complaints accounted for 53 percent of all reported fraud complaints.

  • The major metropolitan areas with the highest per-capita rates of complaints concerning consumer fraud were Washington, D.C.; San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, Calif.; and Las Vegas-Paradise, Nev.

  • Credit card fraud was the most common form of reported identity theft, followed by phone or utilities fraud, bank fraud and employment fraud.



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