ID theft tops consumer complaint list

The Commission, which published its regular annual report of consumer complaints yesterday, said that identity theft amounted to a quarter of the complaints received. It far outstripped the number two cause of consumer complaints - third party and creditor debt collection - which accounted for just 9%.

"Internet services" came in at 4%, while computer equipment and software ranked 11th at 2%. Only 1% of complainants claimed to have been ripped off via Internet auctions.

According to the data, published in the 2008 edition of the FTC's Consumer Sentinel Network Data Book, the internet seemed to be dropping slightly as an initial communication channel for fraudsters.

While 52% of complainants were initially contacted through email-related channels - the first time this channel has moved beyond 50% - fewer people were being contacted via other forms of internet channel such as web sites.

This number dropped 4% to 11% in 2008. Overall, then, the total number of complainants that were contacted using the internet or email dropped by 2%.

The amount of money paid to scammers by complainants increased dramatically to $1,833,632,201 last year from $1,370,701,020 in 2007.

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