Note: The library community can and should play major role in assisting consumers not only repair problems but also with info and skills (including web research and info/digital literacy skills) about how to avoid consumer problems in the first place especially in the areas that involve info technology including identity theft, personal info security, and online privacy/tracking. In other words, the local community library as a “go to” resource and clearinghouse for consumer info and skills.
From the Federal Trade Commission:
Identity theft continues to top the Federal Trade Commission’s national ranking of consumer complaints, and American consumers reported losing over $1.6 billion to fraud overall in 2013, according to the FTC’s annual report on consumer complaints released today.
The Commission received more than two million complaints overall, as reported in the agency’s Consumer Sentinel Network Data Book 2013, [full text embedded below] of which 290,056, or 14 percent, were identity theft related. Thirty percent of these incidents were tax- or wage-related, which continues to be the largest category within identity theft complaints.
The highest reported age group for identity theft is 20-29, with 20 percent of complaints. Rich says that educating consumers on this topic is a top priority for the agency. Some of the FTC resources include Signs of Identity Theft,Immediate Steps to Repair Identity Theft, and How to Keep Your Personal Information Secure.
Of the more than 1.1 million fraud complaints (classified separately from identity theft) the Commission received, 61 percent of consumers reported an amount of money they had paid, which collectively added up to more than $1.6 billion.
The top 10 complaint categories include:
The FTC enters complaints into the Consumer Sentinel Network, a secure online database that is available to more than 2,000 civil and criminal law enforcement agencies across the country. Agencies use the data to research cases, identify victims and track possible targets.
The Federal Trade Commission has also released the latest edition of the Consumer Sentinel Data Book (109 pages; PDF). It’s loaded with statistics (including some at the state and metro level) and charts.