of 104
Current View
Federal Trade Commission
February 2013
for January - December 2012
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Federal Trade Commission Page 1 of 102 Released February 2013
Report Subject Page No.
Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
. . . 2
Executive Summary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3
Consumer Sentinel Network Complaint Type Percentages by Calendar Year . . . . . . . . 4
Consumer Sentinel Network Complaint Count by Calendar Year . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5
Consumer Sentinel Network Complaint Categories . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6
Consumer Sentinel Network Fraud Complaints
Total Number of Fraud Complaints & Amount Paid . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7
Method of Consumer Payment . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8
Company’s Method of Contacting Consumers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9
Fraud Complaints by Consumer Age . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10
Top Company Countries and Foreign Company’s Method of Contacting Consumers . . . . 11
Consumer Sentinel Network Identity Theft Complaints
How Identity Theft Victims’ Information is Misused . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12
Law Enforcement Contact by Identity Theft Victims . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13
Identity Theft Complaints by Victims’ Age . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14
Consumer Sentinel Network State and Metropolitan Areas Ranking
State Complaint Rates . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15
Largest Metropolitan Areas Ranking for Fraud & Other Complaints . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16
Largest Metropolitan Areas Ranking for Identity Theft Complaints . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17
Consumer Sentinel Network Military Complaints
Military Complaints by Branch, Status and Pay Grade. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18
Military Complaints by Top Complaint Categories . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19
How Military Identity Theft Victims’ Information is Misused . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20
Consumer Sentinel Network Detailed State Complaint Information
One page per State and the District of Columbia . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21
-Top Fraud & Other Complaint Categories || Identity Theft Types Reported by Victims
Appendices
Appendix A1: Description of the Consumer Sentinel Network . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 73
Appendix A2: Major Data Contributors . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 74
Appendix A3: Data Contributor Details . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 75
Appendix A4: Better Business Bureau Data Contributors . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 76
Appendix B1: Complaint Category Descriptions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 77
Appendix B2: Consumer Sentinel Network Complaint Categories (2010 – 2012). . . . . . 79
Appendix B3: Consumer Sentinel Network Complaint Category Details . . . . . . . . . . . . 80
Appendix C: Fraud Complaints & Amount Paid Reported by State . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 86
Appendix D1: Fraud & Other Complaints by Largest Metropolitan Areas . . . . . . . . . . . 87
Appendix D2: Identity Theft Complaints by Largest Metropolitan Areas . . . . . . . . . . . . 95
TheConsumerSentinelNetwork(CSN)isasecureonlinedatabaseof
millions of consumer complaints available only to law enforcement. In
addition to storing complaints received by the FTC, the CSN also includes
complaints filed with state law enforcement organizations such as the North
Carolina and Oregon Departments of Justice, the Tennessee Division of
Consumer Affairs, the South Carolina Department of Consumer Affairs, and
the Offices of the Attorneys General for C
alifornia, Colorado, Idaho, Indiana,
Iowa, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, Ohio and Washington. Federal
agencies, including the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the U.S. Postal
Inspection Service and the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center contribute
data as well. The Commission also receives complaints from the Canadian
Anti-Fraud Centre. Non-governmental organizations also provide complaint
data to the FTC. The Council of Better Business Bureaus, consisting of all
North American BBBs, is a major contributor of complaint data. Other
organizations include the following: Catalog Choice, the Center for
Democracy and Technology, Green Dot, the Identity Theft Assistance Center,
the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, MoneyGram
International, the National Fraud Information Center, PrivacyStar, and
Western Union.
Law enforcement partners --- whether they are down the street, across the
nation, or around the world --- can use information in the database to enhance
and coordinate investigations.
Begun in 1997 to collect fraud and identity theft complaints, the CSN now has
more than 8 million complaints, including those about credit reports, debt
collection, mortgages, and lending, among other subjects. The CSN has a
five-year data retention policy; complaints older than five years are purged
biannually. Between January and December 2012, the CSN received more
than 2 million consumer complaints, which the FTC has sorted into 30
complaint categories. Some organizations transfer their complaints to the CSN
after the end of the calendar year, and new data providers, added to the system
each year, are contributing complaints from prior years. As a result, the total
number of complaints for 2012 will increase during the next few months, and
totals from previous years may differ from prior CSN annual reports.
The 2012 Consumer Sentinel Network Data Book is based on unverified
complaints reported by consumers. The data is not based on a consumer
survey.
For more information about the Consumer Sentinel Network, visit
www.FTC.gov/sentinel. Law enforcement personnel may join CSN at
Register.Consume
rSentinel.gov.
INTRODUCTION
U.S. Postal
Inspection Service
Internet Crime
Complaint Center
Better Business Bureaus
Leading Data Contributors
www.econsumer.gov
www.FTC.gov/sentinel
www.FTC.gov/sentinel/military
For a detailed description of the CSN and a complete list
of our data contributors, see Appendices A1 through A4.
www.FTC.gov/idtheft
Identity Theft
Assistance Center
Canadian
Anti-Fraud Centre
Publishers Clearing
House
Consumer Financial
Protection Bureau
Indiana
Attorney General
North Carolina
Department of Justice
Ohio
Attorney General
Washington
Attorney General
Michigan
Attorney General
Oregon
Department of Justice
Federal Trade Commission Page 2 of 102 Released February 2013
PrivacyStar
Federal Trade Commission
Page 3 of 102
Released February 2013
Executive Summar
y
Consumer Sentinel Network Data Book
January – December 2012
The Consumer Sentinel Network (CSN) contains over 8 million complaints da
ting from calendar year 2008
through calendar year 2012. There are over 11 million
do-not-call complaints from this same time period.
The CSN received over 2 million complaints during cal
endar year 2012: 52% fraud complaints; 18% identity
theft complaints; and 30% other types of complaints.
Identity Theft was the number one co
mplaint category in the CSN for cal
endar year 2012 with 18% of the
overall complaints, followed by Debt Collection (10%);
Banks and Lenders (6%); Shop-at-Home and Catalog
Sales (6%); Prizes, Sweepstakes and
Lotteries (5%); Impostor Scams (4%)
; Internet Services (4%); Auto
Related Complaints (4%); Telephone and Mobile Services (4%); and Credit Cards (3%). The complete
ranking of all 30 complaint categories is listed on page six of this report.
For military consumers, Identity Theft was the number one complaint category in the CSN, followed by Debt
Collection at number two. Mortgage Foreclosure Relie
f and Debt Management ranked as the sixth highest
category for military members, in contrast to
fifteenth highest for th
e population as a whole.
Fraud
Over one million complaints were fraud-related. Consumers reported paying over $1.4 billion in those fraud
complaints; the median amount paid was $535. Fifty-nine percent of the consumers who reported a fraud-
related complaint also reported an amount paid.
Fifty-seven percent of all fraud-related complaints repor
ted the method of initial contact. Of those complaints,
38% said email, while another 34% said the telephone.
Only 9% of those consumers reported mail as the
initial point of contact.
Florida is the state with the highest per capita rate of reported fraud and other types of complaints, followed by
Georgia and Maryland.
Identity Theft
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%).
Complaints about government documents/benefits fraud increased 27 percentage points since calendar year
2010; tax or wage-related fraud
accounted for the growth in this area,
with 43.4% of iden
tity theft victims
reporting this problem in 2012. Employment-related fraud co
mplaints, in contrast, have declined 6 percentage
points since calendar year 2010.
Forty-two percent of identity theft complainants reporte
d whether they contacted law enforcement. Of those
victims, 68% notified a police department. Fifty-four percent of these indicated a report was taken.
Florida is the state with the highest per capita rate of reported identity theft complaints, followed by Georgia
and California.
CY-2010 CY-2011 CY-2012
Consumer Sentinel Network
Complaint Type Percentages
1
Calendar Years 2010 through 2012
1
Percentages are based on the total number of Consum
er Sentinel Network complaints by calendar year.
2,061,495
52%
30%
18%
1,895,012
55%
30%
15%
1,467,255
27%
56%
17%
Federal Trade Commission Page 4 of 102 Released February 2013
- Identity Theft Complaints
- Fraud Complaints
- Other Complaints
Complaint Types
325,519
551,622
713,657
860,383
909,314
906,129
1,070,447
1,261,124
1,424,066
1,467,255
1,895,012
2,061,495
0
500,000
1,000,000
1,500,000
2,000,000
2,500,000
Consumer Sentinel Network
Complaint Count
1
Calendar Years 2001 through 2012
Federal Trade Commission Page 5 of 102 Released February 2013
Consumer Sentinel Network
Complaint Type Count
1
Calendar Years 2001 through 2012
Purged Data
1
1
Complaint counts from CY-2001 to CY-2007 represent historic fi
gures as per the Consumer Sentinel Network’s five-year
data retention policy. These complaint figures
exclude National Do Not Call Registry complaints.
Fraud Identity Theft Other
2001 137,306 86,250 101,963 325,519
2002 242,783 161,977 146,862 551,622
2003 331,366 215,240 167,051 713,657
2004 410,298 246,909 203,176 860,383
2005 437,585 255,687 216,042 909,314
2006 423,672 246,214 236,243 906,129
2007 505,563 259,314 305,570 1,070,447
2008 620,832 314,587 325,705 1,261,124
2009 706,038 278,371 439,657 1,424,066
2010 818,239 251,089 397,927 1,467,255
2011 1,038,966 279,226 576,820 1,895,012
2012 1,074,937 369,132 617,426 2,061,495
Calendar Year
Consumer Sentinel Network Complaint Count
Total Complaints
1
Percentages are based on the total number of CSN complaints
(2,061,495) received by the FTC between January 1 and
December 31, 2012. Seven percent (140,895) of the total CSN co
mplaints received by the FTC
were coded Other (Note in
Comments). For CSN category descriptions, details and three-year figures, see Appendices B1 through B3.
Consumer Sentinel Network
Complaint Categories
1
January 1 – December 31, 2012
Federal Trade Commission Page 6 of 102 Released February 2013
Rank Category
No. of
Complaints Percentages
1
1 Identity Theft 369,132 18%
2 Debt Collection 199,721 10%
3 Banks and Lenders 132,340 6%
4 Shop-at-Home and Catalog Sales 115,184 6%
5 Prizes, Sweepstakes and Lotteries 98,479 5%
6 Impostor Scams 82,896 4%
7 Internet Services 81,438 4%
8 Auto Related Complaints 78,062 4%
9 Telephone and Mobile Services 76,783 4%
10 Credit Cards 51,550 3%
11 Foreign Money Offers and Counterfeit Check Scams 46,112 2%
12 Advance Payments for Credit Services 42,974 2%
13 Television and Electronic Media 41,664 2%
14 Health Care 35,703 2%
15 Mortgage Foreclosure Relief and Debt Management 33,791 2%
16 Business and Job Opportunities 32,496 2%
17 Travel, Vacations and Timeshare Plans 30,324 1%
18 Internet Auction 29,553 1%
19 Credit Bureaus, Information Furnishers and Report Users 29,268 1%
20 Office Supplies and Services 24,210 1%
21 Magazines and Books 18,906 1%
22 Home Repair, Improvement and Products 13,432 1%
23 Computer Equipment and Software 13,386 1%
24 Grants 10,257 <1%
25 Real Estate 8,468 <1%
26 Investment Related Complaints 7,117 <1%
27 Education 3,613 <1%
28 Charitable Solicitations 3,599 <1%
29 Clothing, Textiles and Jewelry 2,468 <1%
30 Buyers' Clubs 2,125 <1%
Total
Reporting
Amount Paid Reported Average
1
Me di an
2
2010 818,239 656,778 80% $1,729,567,228 $2,633 $581
2011 1,038,966 673,117 65% $1,544,849,568 $2,295 $550
2012 1,074,937 634,678 59% $1,491,656,241 $2,350 $535
CY
Co mp laint Cou nt
Percenta
g
e Reportin
g
Amount Paid
Amount Paid
Amount Paid
$0 368,573 56% 340,439 51% 342,771 54%
$1 - 25 15,862 2% 16,616 2% 15,045 2%
$26 - 50 17,111 3% 19,838 3% 16,648 3%
$51 - 75 11,789 2% 13,357 2% 10,339 2%
$76 - 100 14,782 2% 17,442 3% 13,750 2%
$101 - 250 42,105 6% 50,631 8% 46,402 7%
$251 - 500 36,341 6% 45,390 7% 42,451 7%
$501 - 1,000 35,246 5% 43,946 7% 40,278 6%
$1,001 - 5,000 85,450 13% 95,231 14% 79,893 13%
More than $5,000 29,519 4% 30,227 4% 27,101 4%
Complaints Percentages
3
CY - 2012
Percentages
3
Complaints Percentages
3
CY - 2010
Complaints
CY - 2011
1
Average is based on the total number of consumers who repor
ted an amount paid for each calendar year: CY-2010 = 656,778;
CY-2011 = 673,117; and CY-2012 = 634,678. The amount paid is
based on complaints with reported values from $0 to
$999,999.
2
Median is the middle number in a set of numbers so that half
the numbers have values that are greater than the median and
half have values that are less. Calc
ulation of the median excludes compla
ints with amount paid reported as $0.
Note: See Appendix C for fraud complaints and amount paid
figures by State and the District of Columbia.
Consumer Sentinel Network
Total Number of Fraud Complaints & Amount Paid
Calendar Years 2010 through 2012
Consumer Sentinel Network
Distribution of Fraud Complaints by Amount Paid
Calendar Years 2010 through 2012
3
Percentages are based on the total number of consumers who
reported amount paid for each calendar year: CY-2010 = 656,778;
CY-2011 = 673,117; and CY-2012 = 634,678.
Federal Trade Commission Page 7 of 102 Released February 2013
1
Percentages are based on the total number of CSN fraud complaints
for each calendar year where consumers reported the method of
payment:
CY-2010 = 110,450; CY-2011 = 245,950; and CY-2012 = 217,292. Of the to
tal, 20% reported this information during CY-2012, 24% i
n CY-
2011 and 14% in CY-2010.
2
These figures include a significant number of
complaints from data contributors MoneyG
ram International and
Western Union Money
Transfer,
which may affect the distribution
of the reported method of payment.
3
The amount paid is based on complain
ts reporting values from $0 to $999,999.
Consumer Sentinel Network Fraud Complaints
by Method of Consumer Payment
1
January 1 – December 31, 2012
Consumer Sentinel Network Fraud Complaints
by Method of Consumer Payment
Calendar Years 2010 through 2012
14%
7%
8%
17%
6%
1%
47%
0%
10%
20%
30%
40%
50%
Bank
Account
Debit
Cash/Cash
Advance
Check Credit
Cards
Money
Order
Telephone
Bill
Wire
Transfer
Federal Trade Commission Page 8 of 102 Released February 2013
CY - 2010 CY - 2011 CY - 2012
Payment Method Complaints Percentages
1
Amount Paid
3
Complaints Percentages
1
Amount Paid
3
Complaints Percentages
1
Amount Paid
3
Bank Account Debit 16,042 15% $37,514,461 33,954 14% $89,449,151 31,000 14% $80,498,368
Cash/Cash Advance 4,317 4% $24,254,971 17,739 7% $154,310,539 15,702 7% $123,637,822
Check 9,634 9% $63,045,152 18,737 8% $93,307,882 16,794 8% $90,150,775
Credit Cards 28,332 26% $65,411,856 42,231 17% $128,190,090 36,223 17% $94,876,853
Money Order 2,878 3% $11,197,094 15,198 6% $54,499,305 13,277 6% $56,946,850
Telephone Bill 4,744 4% $1,109,499 2,205 1% $472,378 1,513 1% $903,260
Wire Transfer
2
44,503 40% $145,127,814 115,886 47% $437,266,630 102,783 47% $450,607,224
Total Reporting Payment
Method
110,450 $347,660,847 245,950 $957,495,975 217,292 $897,621,152
2