Identity theft the top complaint to the FTC – what to do about it if you become a victim

IdentityTheft_icon The Federal Trade Commission recently released its 2012 annual report of complaints received last year. Overall they received more than two million complaints against companies and programs.  You can see the entire list at the bottom of this post, and you can read the FTC report here.

Identity Theft – Number One Complaint

The number one complaint in 2012 was identity theft.  Here are some highlights from the report:

Government documents/benefits fraud (46%) was the most common form of reported identity theft, followed by credit card fraud (13%), phone or utilities fraud (10%), and bank fraud (6%). Other significant categories of identity theft reported by victims were employment-related fraud (5%) and loan fraud (2%).

Florida is the state with the highest per capita rate of reported identity theft complaints, followed by Georgia, California, Michigan and New York

Victim ages:

  • 19 and under – 6%
  • 20-29 – 21%
  • 30-39 – 19%
  • 40-49 – 18%
  • 50-59 – 17%
  • 60-69 – 11%
  • 70+ – 8%

So what do you do if you become a victim of identity theft?

GreenPath recommends taking three steps:

1. Contact the three credit bureaus and tell them that you have been a victim of identity theft.

Equifax fraud division
800-525-6285
P.O. Box 740250
Atlanta, GA 30374
www.fraudalerts.equifax.com

Experian fraud division
888-397-3742
P.O. Box 1017
Allen, TX 75013
www.experian.com/fraud

Trans Union fraud division
800-680-7289
P.O. Box 6790
Fullerton, CA 92634
www.transunion.com

2. Contact your creditors directly and ask to speak to someone in the security department. Freeze the existing account.

3. Contact local law enforcement and get a police report. This will serve as documentation that a crime has occurred.

According to GreenPath Counselor Dorothy Barrick, it can take anywhere from 20 hours to 600 hours to clear your name when you have been a victim of identity theft.  “By reviewing your credit report on a regular basis and catching any fraudulent activity early, you can save yourself many hours of getting your good name cleared,” said Barrick.

You can obtain a free copy of your credit report from each of the three reporting bureaus each year.  Log on to www.annualcreditreport.com.

Top Complaints from the FTC in 2012

1. Identity Theft
2. Debt collection
3. Banks and lenders
4. Shop-at-home and catalog sales
5. Prizes, sweepstakes and lotteries
6. Imposter scams
7. Internet services
8. Auto-related complaints
9. Telephone and mobile services
10. Credit cards

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