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Identity Theft Among Top Complaints Fielded by FTC

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Instances of identity theft have been on the rise nationwide for some time now, and climbed to an all-time record high in terms of the number of incidents reported to one federal agency last year.

There were a total of 369,132 cases of identity theft reported to the Federal Trade Commission last year, up from just 279,226 in 2011, and the highest total seen since 2008’s stat of 314,587. While instances of fraud and other complaints were more significant overall, on a case-by-case basis, identity theft comprised 18 percent of all complaints fielded by the agency, with issues related to debt collection a distant second at 10 percent, or 199,721 cases.

The type of identity theft that posed the biggest problem to consumers across the country was related to taxes or wages, the report said. Incidents of these crimes made up 43.4 percent of all such claims made to the FTC, up from 24.3 percent in 2011 and just 15.6 percent in 2010. The next-largest type of identity theft being perpetrated was someone opening a new credit card account in a victim’s name, which made up 8.8 percent of all complaints, up only slightly from 8.5 percent the year before, and down from 9.1 percent in 2010.

Among the actions taken by those who were victimized by this type of crime, 54 percent said they notified a police department and had a report taken, while another 32 percent did not choose to notify those law enforcement agencies, the report said. Another 8 percent notified police and did not indicate whether a report was taken, while 6 percent said that in their case, no report was filed.

The most common age group reporting these crimes was the 20-29, which made up slightly more than one-fifth of all complaints, the report said. Another 19 percent came from those between 30 and 39, 18 percent were filed by people between 40 and 49, and 17 percent were from Americans between 50 and 59. Those 19 and under reporting the crimes constituted just 6 percent of the total.

Identity theft can have massive implications for victims even beyond their immediate finances. Such a crime can also take a massive toll on their credit rating, which can take a significant amount of time to remediate and cause numerous problems going forward.

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