Imposter scam complaints surpassed identity theft for the first time as the second most common category of consumer complaints received by the Federal Trade Commission’s Consumer Sentinel Network in 2016, according to the agency’s new Data Book.
Debt collection complaints remained the top consumer complaint category.
The rise in impostor scam reports is due to an increase in complaints about government imposters and purported computer technicians that attempt to convince consumers to send money.
“Our latest data book shows that imposter scams are a serious and growing problem, and you can be sure that the FTC will use all the tools at its disposal to address it,” said Thomas Pahl, acting director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “That includes law enforcement actions against scammers and consumer education to help consumers avoid losing money.”
In 2016, the Consumer Sentinel Network collected more than 3.1 million consumer complaints, which the FTC has sorted into 30 top complaint categories. As with 2015, Florida, Georgia and Michigan were the top three states for fraud and other complaints, while Michigan, Florida and Delaware were the top three states for identity theft complaints.
The complaint categories making up the top 10 are:
|Number of complaints||Percentages|
|Telephone and Mobile Services||292,155||10|
|Banks and Lenders||143,987||5|
|Prizes, Sweepstakes and Lotteries||141,643||5|
|Shop-at-Home and Catalog Sales||109,831||4|
|Credit Bureaus, Information Furnishers and Report Users||49,679||2|
|Television and Electronic Media||49,546||2|
The FTC produces the Consumer Sentinel Network Data Book annually using complaints received by the Consumer Sentinel Network. These include complaints made directly by consumers to the FTC, as well as complaints received by state and federal law enforcement agencies, national consumer protection organizations, and non-governmental organizations.
The Data Book includes national statistics, as well as a state-by-state listing of top complaint categories in each state and a listing of metropolitan areas that generated the most complaints, per capita.
Consumer complaints will continue to be a catalyst when it comes to local, state and federal investigations and enforcement actions. Contact a state attorney general subpoena lawyer if you have received a subpoena, an inquiry letter or a civil investigative demand.
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