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The Federal Trade Commission today released the list of top consumer complaints received by the agency in 2008. The list, contained in the publication “Consumer Sentinel Network Data Book for January-December 2008,” showed that for the ninth year in a row, identity theft was the number one consumer complaint category. Of 1,223,370 complaints received in 2008, 313,982 – or 26 percent – were related to identity theft.

The report breaks out complaint data on a state-by-state basis and also contains data about the 50 metropolitan areas reporting the highest per capita incidence of fraud and other complaints.  In addition, the report sets forth the 50 metropolitan areas reporting the highest incidence of identity theft.

The report states that credit card fraud was the most common form of reported identity theft at 20 percent, followed by government documents/benefits fraud at 15 percent, employment fraud at 15 percent, phone or utilities fraud at 13 percent, bank fraud at 11 percent and loan fraud at four percent.

The top 20 complaint categories were:

Rank Category Complaints %
1 Identity Theft 313,982 26
2 Third Party and Creditor Debt Collection 104,642 9
3 Shop-at-Home and Catalog Sales 52,615 4
4 Internet Services 52,102 4
5 Foreign Money Offers and Counterfeit Check Scams 38,505 3
6 Credit Bureaus, Information Furnishers and Report Users 34,940 3
7 Prizes, Sweepstakes and Lotteries 33,340 3
8 Television and Electronic Media 25,930 2
9 Banks and Lenders 22,890 2
10 Telecom Equipment and Mobile Services 22,387 2
11 Computer Equipment and Software 21,442 2
12 Business Opportunities, Employment Agencies and Work-at-Home 20,286 2
13 Internet Auction 17,294 1
14 Advance-Fee Loans and Credit Protection/Repair 17,263 1
15 Health Care 16,275 1
16 Auto Related Complaints 14,278 1
17 Travel, Vacations and Timeshare Plans 13,200 1
18 Credit Cards 13,196 1
19 Magazines and Buyers Clubs 10,188 1
20 Telephone Services 9,300 1

The FTC collects consumer complaints from more than 125 other organizations and makes them available to more than 1,600 civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad via Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database. Copies of the “Consumer Sentinel Network Data Book” can be found at

The Federal Trade Commission works for consumers to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices and to provide information to help spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint in English or Spanish, visit the FTC ’s online Complaint Assistant or call 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357). The FTC enters complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to more than 1,500 civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad. The FTC’s Web site provides free information on a variety of consumer topics.

Contact Information

Claudia Bourne Farrell,
Office of Public Affairs
John Krebs,
Bureau of Consumer Protection