[credit provider=””Identity Thief””]
Hold on to your passwords.Identity theft was the most prevalent problem plaguing consumers in 2012, according to data released from the Federal Trade Commission.
Earlier this month, Florida reported a rash of tax identity theft cases, one of the fastest growing crimes in the country.
Identity theft issues accounted for nearly 20 per cent of the more than 2 million problems the FTC received last year, followed by complaints about debt collection and banking and lending practices.
Here’s the top 10 consumer complaints the commission received in 2012:
1. Identity theft. The most common identity theft problem was government documents/benefits fraud, followed by credit card fraud, phone or utilities fraud and bank fraud. Florida, Georgia and California topped the list for the number of identify theft issues.
2. Debt collection. 10 per cent, or about 200,000 cases, complaints were reported in this category. Among them were problems with debt collectors falsely threatening suits, using profane language or falsely representing the amount or status of debt, among other faults.
3. Banks and lenders. About 6 per cent of the year’s complaints fell in this category, which includes deceptive lending practices, problems with modification of mortgage terms and customer service and account issues.
4. Shop-at-home and catalogue sales. More than 115,000 customers saw problems with undisclosed costs, failure to deliver on time or never getting their delivery.
5. Prizes, sweepstakes and lotteries. Did the “free” prize you signed up for end up coming with a fee? Close to 100,000 consumers noted similar complaints in 2012.
6. Imposter scams. About 4 per cent of the year’s complaints were the result of scammers who posed as friends or family stranded without money abroad or fraudsters who pretended to be working for the government or a private company.
7. Internet services. A number of these 81,000 complaints were traced back to faulty Internet Service Provider offers and problems with Internet gaming, entertainment and social networking.
8. Auto-related complaints. At least 78,000 consumers reported issues with price fixing at gas stations, repair issues from their newly purchased cars and deceptive claims on auto warranties, among other problems.
9. Telephone and mobile services. Unexpected charges for calls to toll-free numbers, unsolicited text messages and problems with mobile applications or downloads made up the brunt of this complaint category.
10. Credit cards. About 51,000 consumers noted account or billing issues or fraudulent credit card offers during the past year.